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ISSN 0162-2188 

Vol. 3 No. 2 (whole no. 12) February 1979 


COVER Jack Gaughan 1 

EDITORIAL: QUITE PERSONAL Isaac Asimov 6 

ON RECORDS Karl M. Olsen 12 

lASFM DISCOUNT BOOK DEPARTMENT 20 

To Fill the Sea and Air F. Paul Wilson 22 

Captain Tittlebaum’s Test Martin Gardner 40 

In the Cellar Larry Niven 43 

SF CONVENTIONAL CALENDAR Ervyin S. Strauss 46 

Ad Astra, Al Mary W. Stanton 47 

Back to Byzantium Mark J. McGarry 48 

Up-Top Summer Leah Palmer 66 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY George O. Smith 73 

On the Benefits of Programming Steven M. Tymon 99 

Proud Rider Barry B. Longyear 102 

Fit the Crime Noah Ward 128 

Nothing for Nothing Isaac Asimov 136 

Zugg’s Fall Frederick Longbeard 147 

Outside Keith Davis 148 

A Bait of Dreams Jo Clayton 150 

LETTERS 182 



Joel Davis: President & Publisher Isaac Asimov: Editorial Director 

George H. Scithers: Editor 


Published monthly by Davis Publications, Inc., at $1.25 a copy; annual subscription of twelve 
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EDITORIAL: QUITE PERSONAL 

art: Frank Kelly Freas 


This is the second monthly issue o? Isaac 
Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. 

Progress has been most satisfactory. In 

1977, the first year of the magazine’s ex- 
istence, we had four quarterly issues; in 

1978, we had six bimonthly issues. Now, 
in 1979, we expect to have twelve 
monthly issues. 

Naturally, I cannot assure you that 
things will continue to go well forever. 

Who knows what hidden bogs and 
gopher-holes lie ahead, and it is not 
characteristic of me to make inflated 
promises. In fact, those of you who read 
my editorial in the first issue will re- 
member that I was cautious to begin with and promised nothing 
more than that we would do our best. 

George Scithers, our Industrious Editor, is not as surprised as I 
am; and Joel Davis, our Keen Publisher, is not surprised at all. He 
predicted from the start that this would happen and was willing 
to back up that prediction with a sizable initial investment 
(which, I am glad to say, he has not lost). 

Where I made my own mistake, apparently, was in the ner- 
vousness with which I approached the name of the magazine. I 
was certain that to give a magazine the name of any writer would 
rouse reader hostility, but Joel was sure it would not. 

The readers, in fact, seem to have taken the name in very good 
humor. Some, to be sure, have expressed displeasure over the fact 
that my personality seems so overwhelmingly present and that I 
engage so readily in a "soft sell” of the magazine — but that is all 
of a piece with what I call my "cheerful self-appreciation” and I 
don’t intend to change. Actually, the vast majority of readers 
(judging at least from the letters we get) feel comfortable with the 
strongly personal note with which I imbue these editorials, and 
I’m delighted they do. After all, I was a science fiction reader long 
before I became an elderly sage, and the habit of considering my- 
self one of you and of speaking with you on that basis is too 
firmly entrenched for me to break. 

6 





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MACMILLAN 



The fact of my name in the title of the magazine and the 
strongly personal note encourage the readers to develop a friendly 
interest in me as a person, of course, and to ask me personal 
questions. 

That is fine; I have no objection to that. In fact, I will gladly 
answer such questions except where I am forced to cower under 
the Fifth Amendment for protection from the necessity of self- 
incrimination. Since it is not always possible to answer you indi- 
vidually, I will, if the question seems of sufficient interest, occa- 
sionally devote a portion of the editorial to an answer. 

For instance, I am frequently asked all sorts of details about my 
early life — how I became interested in science fiction, when I 
wrote my first science fiction story, how many rejections I col- 
lected en route to becoming an apprentice sage, and so on, and so 
on. 

No, I’m not going to answer those questions in boring detail 
here, but I am going to plug a forthcoming book of mine. 

Back in early 1977, Cathleen Jordan, my beautiful editor at 
Doubleday, suggested I write an Important Book for the house to 
celebrate the fact that the number of my books was approaching 
the magic figure of 200. I said, jokingly, "How about my autobiog- 
raphy?” and Cathleen caught fire at once. 

All protests to the effect that I had been kidding were brushed 
aside, and I was ordered to go home and start typing. I went off, 
wailing, "But nothing has ever happened to me.” 

I began work on March 9, 1977, and discovered several as- 
tonishing things in due time: 1) I was dealing with a subject that 
was near and dear to my heart — myself. 2) My memory, which is 
rather extraordinary, enabled me to dredge up innumerable de- 
tails concerning my life, all of which were (to myself) fascinating. 
3) Beginning with my eighteenth birthday, I had kept a diary 
which I have never abandoned, so that I had a perfect way of 
checking the chronology of events and of not overlooking even one 
of them. 

Naturally, then, I kept on going for page after page after page. 
I didn’t even stop on the occasion of my coronary since my wife, 
Janet, brought to the hospital all that I had written up to that 
point; and I went over it, editing it. 

On December 31, 1977, I was finished but found myself in great 
distress. The manuscript was 640,000 words long. There was no 
way of getting it all into a book, and I was sure that Cathleen 
was going to tell me to cut it in half, and I was sui’e that I was 


8 


EDITORIAL 




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ASIMOV’S SF ADVENTURE MAGAZINE 
380 LEXINGTON AVENUE 
NEW YORK, NY 10017 

□ Enclosed is $1.75 plus 25<t handling/ shipping (total 
of $2.00) for the Spring 1979, issue #2, of 
ASIMOV’S SF ADVENTURE MAGAZINE. 


Namp 

Address 

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If you missed our sold-out first 
issue, weTe real sorry! 

xj- Si- Si- 

Here now is the Spring ’79 issue 
— 112 pages with lots of illustra- 
tions, full of SF excitement, 
adventure and fun! 


■!X -0! ■{! -Cl 

The cover pic is reproduced in a 
full-color 10" X 16" poster. It 
comes with every copy. 

X!- n- X!- xi- 

Chock-full of stories, this issue 
brings you, for example, 
“Starschool,” the first collabora- 
tion by the noted SF writers and 
brothers, Joe and Jack Haldeman. 
And “Keepersmith,” a novelette 
by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann 
Heydron. And a short story by 
Isaac Asimov himself, “How It 
Happened’’! 


Large 
size — 
SVj" 


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going to refuse and that there’d be the devil to pay. 

When I brought it in, Cathleen stared at the four bulging boxes 
of original and four of carbon and said, in horror, "How much 
would you have written if anything had ever happened to you?” 

She then consulted her boss, Sam Vaughan, hoping to get him 
to take the responsibility of telling me to cut it in half; but he 
didn’t feel like taking the chance, either. He waved his hand neg- 
ligently and said, "Oh, heck! Do it in two volumes!” 

So that’s how it will be. Two fat volumes, each one a third 
longer than the entire Foundation Trilogy, will be published in 
1979. The first volume, entitled In Memory Yet Green, will be out 
in February; and on the same day, I hope, Houghton-Mifflin will 
publish my book. Opus 200] and they will share honors as my 
200th book. 

Do you see what this means? Any of you who are filled with a 
natural curiosity concerning the kind of youngster I was, what in- 
spired me to take the path in life that I did, how I managed (ex- 
traordinarily slowly) to climb the path, partway, to my present 
position as minor celebrity can find it all in this book in pains- 
taking detail. — And it is all written just as personally as these 
editorials are. 

Of course, the first volume only carries my life forward to when 
I was a little over thirty. If, then, having read the book, you are 
curious as to how I managed to continue (with the same extraor- 
dinary slowness) the climb the rest of the way to minor 
celebrity-hood, you need but wait for the second volume, which 
will take up all those subsequent years during which, by heroic 
efforts, I managed to remain a little over thirty. 

The second volume, which I presume will be published in the 
fall, is to be entitled In Joy Still Felt] and I guess you might as 
well get them both. I won’t conceal from you the fact that it will 
be an expensive purchase and may necessitate your going on 
short rations for a week or two, but buying the volumes will 
please me and surely that will be worth the temporary semi- 
famine. 

Of course, the autobiography only covers my life through 1977, 
and things have happened since then. The most exciting personal 
event of 1978 (from the science fiction standpoint) is that, after 
eight years of steadily-renewed options, my book, I, Robot, has 
been bought by the movies. 

None other than Harlan Ellison has been engaged to write the 
screenplay, and that is a perfect choice. He has the strongly 


10 


EDITORIAL 



visual imagination that I lack and the Hollywood savvy that I’ll 
never have. As I write this, he has just finished the screenplay. 
I’ve read it and I like it enormously. Except for occasional, strictly 
scientific advice, I have kept my hands off and given Harlan com- 
plete freedom. 

Now if he can convince the producers that the screenplay does 
not need to be butchered, and if they decide to invest the money 
required to do it right (both of them big ifs), then maybe I’ll fi- 
nally have a motion picture after a while. 

As to how it would then do at the box-office — well, who knows? 
As usual, I make no glowing promises. 

— Isaac Asimov 



MOVING? For your subscription to lA’sf to keep up with you, send both 
your old address and your new one (and the ZIP codes for both, please!) 
to our subscription department: Box 1855 GPO, New York, NY 10001. 


While we are always looking for new writers, please, before you send in 
a story, send us a stamped envelope, addressed to yourself, about 9V2 
inches long (what stationery stores call a number 10 envelope). In it we 
will send you a description of our story needs and a discussion of manu- 
script format. The address for this and for ail manuscript submissions is 
Box 13116, Philadelphia, PA 19101. We assume no responsibility for un- 
solicited manuscripts. 


Joel Davis: President & Publisher Isaac Asimov; Editorial Director 

George H. Scithers: Editor Shawna McCarthy: Associate Editor 
Meg Phillips & Darrell Schweitzer: Asst. Eds. 

Victor C. Stabile: Vice Pres. & Treas. Leonard F. Pinto: Vice Pres. & General Mgr. 
Robert B. Enlow: Sub. Cir. & Mktg. Dir. Don L. Gabree: Newsstand Cir. Dir. 

Jim Cappello: Advertising Mgr. Constance DiRienzo: Rights & Permissions Mgr. 
Eugene S. Slawson: Sub. Cir. Mgr. Irving Bernstein: Art Dir. 

Carl Bartee: Prod. Dir. 


EDITORIAL 


11 





ON RECORDS 

by Karl M. Olsen 


Mr. Brown’s column, "On Books,” 
will be back next month. Meanwhile, 
here’s a discussion on a 
related topic. 


The first stories in the world were fantasies: nature myths that 
explained the origins of things and the workings of the universe. 
These stories were spoken aloud by their authors. The village 
storyteller, who was also its historian, carried- his tales in his 
head and transmitted them by performance. He had no other way. 
Only later would come writing, later still a sufficient spread of 
literacy to make the writing of stories a useful occupation. 

Poets and authors have continued to give public readings, but 
these have been accessible only to those who could attend them. 
Now, with sound reproduction by disc and tape available to all, 
anyone may attend a performance of a fantasy or science fiction 
story read by a professional actor, or — in the oldest form of 
all — by the original author. 

Spoken-word recordings are not new, but until quite recently 
they were found primarily in schools. The works of Poe and 
Hawthorne have been available for many years on records, read 
by such actors as Basil Rathbone. As teachers of English discov- 
ered fantasy writers Tike H.P. Lovecraft, recordings of their work 
became available, but again were not widely known in the mass 
marketplace. 

In the early 1960s a small and (then) successful jazz label. Pres- 
tige Records, decided to enter the spoken- word field. Among the 
first releases on the Prestige Lively Arts series, long since collec- 
tors’ items, was a recording of Burgess Meredith reading some of 
Ray Bradbury’s stories. This album was not a commercial success. 

Caedmon Records is the leader in the spoken word field today. 
In 1969 they released, without fanfare, a recording by an Oxford 
professor named J.R.R. Tolkein. The album, "Poems and Songs of 
Middle Earth,” became a runaway bestseller and to this day has 
sold over 100,000 copies. The guiding spirit and director of most 
Caedmon SF and fantasy recordings is Ward Botsford, a persona- 

12 



ble, articulate, and knowledgeable man who also happens to be a 
true SF and fantasy fan. 

Another company, Alternate World Recordings, has released a 
series of high-quality spoken-word albums. The brainchild of Roy 
Torgeson, producer, and Shelley Torgeson, director, AWR has re- 
corded Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Ursula K. LeGuin, Theodore 
Sturgeon, Joanna Russ, and other well-known authors reading 
their own writings. 

For Caedmon, Frank Herbert has recorded "Dune, The Banquet 
Scene,” the first of a planned four Dune albums. "The Banquet 
Scene,” an excerpt from the first Dune novel, is read beautifully 
and forcefully by Mr. Herbert. 

The second Dune release, titled "Sandworms of Dune,” contains 
new connective material, and could be considered as a separate 
and new entry in the Dune cycle. The third album, to appear 
soon, will be "Battles of Dune” the fourth, tentatively titled "The 
Books of Dune,” is to be a reading of the chapter epigraphs — the 
excerpts from Princess Irulan’s History, the Bene Gesserit Manual, 
et cetera — from all the books. Caedmon plans to ultimately issue 
all four albums in a special boxed set, with extensive notes and a 
color map of Arrakis. 

Dr. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is represented by two re- 
cordings so far. On the first of these, William Shatner reads "The 
Psychohistorians,” the first segment of Foundation, the first vol- 
ume of the trilogy. This recording makes use of echo and elec- 
tronic sound effects. It is a matter of taste whether these enhance 
the reading or distract the listener. 

The second Foundation record is by the Good Doctor himself. 
Dr. Asimov gives a vigorous reading of "The Mayors,” the third 
segment of Foundation. This recording is similar in format to the 
Shatner album, also making use of electronic effects, and is in 
the reviewer’s opinion the more successful of the two. More sec- 
tions of Foundation are to be recorded in the future. 

Not strictly a spoken-word recording but worthy of mention is 
Analog Records’ dramatization of Asimov’s "Nightfall,” one of the 
best-known stories in all of science fiction. This record brings 
back memories of the "X Minus One” and "Dimension X” radio 
programs of the fifties, making use of a full cast of actors and 
complete background sound effects. Also on the album is a con- 
versation between Ben Bova (editor of Analog at the time) and 
Dr. Asimov, regarding the writing of "Nightfall,” which offers 
many insights into a writer’s conceptual and creative process, as 

ON RECORDS 13 




I SSw" 


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That's right, if you missed some of the first issues of ISAAC ASIMOV’S 
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well as the remarkable influence of John W. Campbell on science 
fiction. 

Arthur C. Clarke has made two recordings for Caedmon, with 
more projected. Currently available is a reading of the final chap- 
ters of 2001: A Space Odyssey — naturally including the World 
Riddle Theme from Thus Spake Zarathustra. A second album in- 
cludes some of Clarke’s best-known short stories: "Transit of 
Earth,” "The Star,” and "The Nine Billion Names of God.” Forth- 
coming Clarke albums will include excerpts from Childhood’s End 
and from an as-yet-unpublished novel, the latter to be released 
simultaneously with the book. 

Alternate World Recordings was the first to recognize Ursula K. 
LeGuin’s reading talents. She has recorded for them "The Ones 
Who Walk Away From Ornelas,” "Direction of the Road,” and an 
excerpt from The Left Hand of Darkness. Her rendering is clear 
and straightforward. The attractive jacket artwork, illustrating 
"Ornelas,” is by George Barr. 

Another fine recording has been made by Ms. LeGuin for 
Caedmon Records. The longer of the two stories on this album is 
the Star Trek parody "Intracom.” Heard on this cute and some- 
times very funny reading are Captain Cook, Mr. Balls, Bolts, the 
insane Second Mate Bats, Sparks, and an alien, with all six voices 
provided by Ms. LeGuin, who shows a genuine gift for character 
mannerism. The other selection is "Gwilan’s Harp,” a serious 
story seriously read. Jacket art is by Kelly Freas (as are most of 
Caedmon’s SF album covers). 

Theodore Sturgeon also has two LPs to his credit, one for 
Caedmon and the other for AWR. For Caedmon, Mr. Sturgeon 
reads an abridged version of "Baby is Three,” from his celebrated 
novel More than Human. This reading, over an hour long, is clear 
and unadorned. 

Sturgeon’s recording for the Torgesons is another matter en- 
tirely. This is a vibrant and enthusiastic Ted Sturgeon, obviously 
in complete control of his delivery. The stories are "Bianca’s 
Hands,” startling and compelling, and "The Hurkle is a Happy 
Beast,” which bounces nonstop to its end. Mr. Sturgeon begins 
each story with a brief but welcome introduction. The jacket art is 
excellent: a portrait of Sturgeon by Ed Emshwiller originally 
painted for the special Sturgeon issue of The Magazine of Fantasy 
and Science Fiction. 

Also for Alternate World, Joanna Russ has recorded her Nebula 
Award winner "When It Changed,” "The Great Happiness Con- 

15 


ON RECORDS 



test,” "Gleepsite,” and a short excerpt from her novel The Female 
Man. Ms. Russ’s reading voice is excellent,, her feeling for the 
stories clearly conveyed to the listener. "When It Changed” is the 
outstanding item on the record; it is the story of an extraterres- 
trial colony, typical except for one thing: all the male colonists 
have heen dead for six hundred years. The outpost on Whileaway 
must continue with females only, and does so in fine fashion. In 
time, men from Old Earth arrive — to collide with a stable and ef- 
ficient family and government structure that requires no males or 
male surrogates. This album is also highly recommended, but the 
cover and liner notes are not up to AWR’s usual high standards. 

"Harlan! or, Ellison Reads Ellison” is a recording with energy 
and vitality — how, indeed, could it be otherwise? The Alternate 
World record contains "Repent, Harlequin! Said the 
Ticktockman,” the widely reprinted tale of the Master Timekeeper 
and the man with no sense of time, and "Shatterday,” the story of 
a man who accidentally dials his own telephone number — and 
hears himself answer! 

The Ellison voice and manner require a few moments to adjust 
to, but the resulting experience is worth the very small effort re- 
quired. Subtle sound effects do not distract the listener. Liner 
notes draw an excellent picture of Harlan Ellison. This album was 
nominated for a Nebula Award and has proven to be the biggest 
seller in the AWR catalog. 

Leonard Nimoy has recorded the works of Ray Bradbury, H.G. 
Wells, and Robert A. Heinlein on four albums for Caedmon. One 
Bradbury disc features "There Will Come Soft Rains” and "Usher 
11” from The Martian Chronicles. "Soft Rains” pictures a fully- 
automated home whose inhabitants have been destroyed, proceed- 
ing slowly and quietly toward its own inevitable end. "Usher 11”' 
is a literary fantasy of the re-creation of the House of Usher, on 
Mars in the 21st century. 

The second Bradbury LP contains "The Veldt” and "Mario- 
nettes, Inc.” from The Illustrated Man. Nimoy’s reading of these 
stories captures the delicate rhythm of Bradbury’s prose. The 
cover art is poorer than usual, however. Liner notes, by Sandra 
Ley, are acceptable but brief. 

The Nimoy /Heinlein recording has an outstanding jacket by 
Kelly Freas, and excellent liner' notes by Mr. Heinlein and Ward 
Botsford of Caedmon. The stories presented include "The Green 
Hills of Earth,” the story of Rhysling the starfaring folksinger, an 
SF classic which gains even more dimension in dramatic reading. 
16 ON RECORDS 



The less-well-known "Gentlemen, Be Seated” is based on the old 
Dutch legend of the boy and the hole in the dike. This time, the 
leak is in a lunar-colony tunnel and requires more than a finger 
to plug it. 

H.G. Wells’s The War of The Worlds is abridged to a reading 
time of about fifty minutes. This version is highly listenable and 
has been overlooked by many, which is unfortunate. There is an 
excellent jacket painting by Rick Sternbach (who also illustrated 
the two Foundation albums) and more-than-adequate liner notes. 

William Shatner reads Henry Kuttner’s 1943 story "Mimsy 
Were the Borogoves” for Caedmon. Shatner does voice charac- 
terizations for much of the cast; he is especially good with the 
voices of the children who discover a toy dropped into our world 
from . . . somewhere else. The cover painting, by Kelly Freas, is 
absolutely stunning. The liner notes are by Catherine L. Moore 
(Mrs. Kuttner) and are quite naturally authoritative. 

Alternate World has released a remarkable two-record set: 
"Blood! The Life and Future Times of Jack the Ripper.” In three 
stories, two by Robert Bloch and one by Harlan Ellison, the set 
traces the past and future career of the Whitechapel killer. The 
Bloch stories are "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” from Weird 
Tales magazine of 1943, and "A Toy for Juliette,” from the 1967 
anthology Dangerous Visions. Robert Bloch is no stranger to radio 
drama, and his renditions provide a stimulating exercise for the 
imagination. 

The Ellison story, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the 
World,” (also from Dangerous Visions) begins where Bloch’s 
"Juliette” ends. Ellison’s reading must be considered one of the 
best vocal dramatizations ever done in this field. Echo and re- 
verberation effects are used, but sparingly; and Mr. Ellison reads 
his characters in unique ways. He even slips in a Ronald Colman 
voice for a major character, to good effect. A truly incredible tour 
de force for authors and listener, this album set may be the best 
and most vivid done in SF/fantasy to date. The liner notes are 
quite good, and the cover, mostly in shades of red, grabs -the at- 
tention. 

Robert Bloch is also represented on the AWR label by "Gravely, 
Robert Bloch.” On this record the author reads "That Hell-Bound 
Train,” a light fantasy which was awarded the Hugo as the best 
SF short story of 1958, and "Enoch,” from Weird Tales of 1946. 
Cartoonist Gahan Wilson has provided a cover illustration of 
Robert Bloch and friends; the liner notes are by Lester del Rey. 


ON RECORDS 


17 



There is quite a bit to look forward to in SF recordings. In the 
planning stages or awaiting release are- Anne McCaffrey reading 
The White Dragon; Clifford D. Simak reading excerpts from City; 
Robert Silverberg reading from Dying Inside; and a special album 
by Poul Anderson, called "Yonder,” about man in space from the 
first explorations to 6,000 years in the future. Also planned are 
Judith Merril’s "Survival Ship,” Hal Clement’s Needle, Ted Stur- 
geon’s "The Fabulous Idiot,” and a dramatic reading of John W. 
Campbell’s "Who Goes There?” 

The buying public has shown a great interest in SF spoken- 
word recordings, and more and more authors have responded by 
recording their work not only for the immediate aud’.ence but for 
future listeners. The finest storytellers in SF and fantasy are once 
again speaking their stories as well. Have you heard; are you lis- 
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22 





During the period in question there were two items on the in- 
terstellar market for which supply could never equal demand. The 
intricate, gossamer carvdngs of the Vanek were one, valued be- 
cause they were so subtly alien and yet so appreciable on human 
terms. The other was filet of chispen, a seafood delicacy with 
gourmet appeal all across Occupied Space. The flavor . . . how 
does one describe a unique gustatoriaJ experience, or the mild 
euphoria that attends consumption of sixty grams or more of the 
filet? 

Enough to say that it was in high demand in those days. And 
the supply rested completely on the efforts of the individual chis- 
pen fishers on Gelk. Many a large interstellar corporation pressed 
to bring modern methods to the tiny planet for a more efficient 
harvesting of the fish, but the ruJing council of Gelk forbade the 
intrusion of outside interests. There was a huge profit to be made 
and the counciJ members intended to see that the bulk of it went 
into their own pockets. 

from STARS FOR SALE: 

An Economic History of Occupied Space 
by Emmerz Fent. 

Imagine the sea, smooth slate gray in predawn under a low 
drifting carapace of cloud. Imagine two high, impenetrable walls 
parallel on that sea, separated by ten times the height of a tall 
man, each stretching away to the horizon. Imagine a force-seven 
gale trapped between those walls and careening toward you, beat- 
ing the sea below it to a furious lather as it comes. 

Now . . . remove the walls and remove the wind. Leave the on- 
rushing corridor of turbulent water. That was what Albie saw as 
he stood in the first boat. 

The chispies were running. The game was on. 

Albie gauged it to be a small school, probably a spur off a big- 
ger run to the east. Good. He didn’t want to hit a big run just yet. 
There were new men on the nets who needed blooding and a 
small school like the one approaching was perfect. 

He signaled to his men at their posts around the net, warning 
them to brace for the hit. Out toward the sun stood a long dark 
hull, bristling amidships with monitoring equipment. Albie knew 
he was being watched but couldn’t guess why. He didn’t recognize 
the design and closed his right eye to get a better look with his 
left. The doctors had told him not to do that. If he had to favor 
one of his eyes, let it be the artificial one. But he couldn’t get 

24 TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



used to it — everything always looked grainy, despite the fact that 
it was the best money could buy. At least he could see. And if he 
ever decided on a plastic repair of the ragged scar running across 
his right eyebrow and orbit, only old friends would know that a 
chispie wing had ruined that eye. And, of course, Albie would 
know. He bore the chispies no animosity, though. No Ahab syn- 
drome for Albie. He was glad to be alive, glad to lose an eye in- 
stead of his head. There were no prosthetic heads around. 

Most of the experienced men on the nets wore scars or were 
missing bits of ears or fingers. It was part of the game. If they 
didn’t want to play, they could stand on shore and let the chispies 
swim by unmolested. That way they’d never get hurt. Nor would 
they get those exorbitant prices people all over Occupied Space 
were willing to pay for filet of chispen. 

Turning away from the dark, skulking hull, Albie trained both 
eyes on the chispies. He leaned on the wheel and felt the old ting- 
ling in his nerve ends as the school approached. The middle of his 
sixth decade was passing, the last four of them spent on this sea 
as a chispen fisher . . . and still the same old thrill when he saw 
them coming. 

He was shorter than most of the men he employed; stronger, 
too. His compact, muscular body was a bit flabbier now than 
usual, but he’d be back to fighting trim before the season was 
much older. Standing straight out from his cheeks, chin, and scalp 
was a knotty mane of white and silver shot through with streaks 
of black. He had a broad, flat nose, and the skin of his face, what 
little could be seen, showed the ravages of his profession. Years of 
long exposure to light from a star not meant to shine on human 
skin, light refracted down through the atmosphere and reflected 
up from the water, had left his dark brown skin with a texture 
similar to the soles of a barefoot reefclimber, and lined it to an 
extent that he appeared to have fallen asleep under the needle of 
a crazed tattooist with a penchant for black ink and a compulsion 
for crosshatching. Eyes of a startling gray shone out from his face 
like beacons in the night. 

The stripe of frothing, raging water was closer now. Albie 
judged it to be about twenty meters across, so he let his scow drift 
westward to open the mouth of the net a little wider. Thirty me- 
ters seaward to his right lay the anchorboat manned by Lars Zaro, 
the only man in the crew older than Albie. The floats on the net 
trailed in a giant semi-circle between and behind them, a cul-de- 
sac ringed with ten scows of Albie’s own design — flat-bottomed 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 25 



with a centerboard for greater stability — each carrying one gaff 
man and one freezer man. The two new hands were on freezer 
duty, of course. They had a long way to go before they could be 
trusted with a gaff. 

Albie checked the men’s positions — all twenty-six, counting 
himself, were set. Then he glanced again at the big ship standing 
out toward the horizon. He could vaguely make out GelkCo I 
emblazoned across the stern. He wondered why it was there. 

"Incredible! That school’s heading right for him!” 

"Told you.” 

Two men huddled before an illuminated screen in a dark room, 
one seated, the other leaning over his shoulder, both watching the 
progress of the season’s first chispen run. The main body of the 
run was a fat, jumbled streak of light to the right of center on the 
screen, marking its position to seaward in the deeper part of the 
trench. They ignored that. It was the slim arc that had broken 
from the run a few kilometers northward and was now heading 
directly for a dot representing Albie and his crew that gripped 
their attention. 

"How does he do it?” the seated man asked. "How does he know 
where they’re going to be?” 

"You’ve just asked the question we’d all like answered. Albie 
uses outdated methods, decrepit equipment, and catches more 
than anyone else on the water. The average chispen fisher brings 
home enough to support himself and his family; Albie is rich and 
the two dozen or so who work for him are living high.” 

"Well, we’ll be putting an end to that soon enough, I guess.” 

"I suppose we will.” 

"It’s almost a shame.” The seated man pointed to the screen. 
"Just look at that! The school’s almost in his net! Damn! It’s 
amazing! There’s got to be a method to it!” 

"There is. And after seeing this. I’m pretty sure I know what it 
is.” But the standing man would say no more. 

Albie returned his attention to the onrushing school, men- 
tally submerging and imagining himself as one with the chis- 
pies. He saw glistening blue-white fusiform shapes darting 
through the water around him in tightly packed formation just 
below the surface. Their appearance at this point differed mark- 
edly from the slow, graceftil, ray-like creatures that glide so 


26 


TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



peacefully along the seabottoms of their winter spawning grounds 
to the south or the summer feeding grounds to the north. With 
their triangular wings spread wide and gently undulating, the 
chispies are the picture of tranquility at the extremes of their 
habitat. 

But between those extremes . . . 

When fall comes after a summer of gorging at the northern 
shoals, the chispen wraps its barbed wings around its fattened body 
and becomes a living, twisting missile hurtling down the twelve- 
hundred-kilometer trench that runs along the coast of Gelk’s 
major land mass. 

The wings stay folded around the body during the entire trip. 
But should something bar the chispies’ path — a net, for 
instance — the wings unfurl as they swerve and turn and loop in 
sudden trapped confusion. The ones who can build sufficient 
momentum break the surface and take to the air in a short glide 
to the open sea. The chispen fisher earns his hazard pay then — 
the sharp barbed edges of those unfurled wings cut through flesh 
almost as easily as air. 

With the school almost upon him, Albie turned his attention to 
the net floats and waited. Soon it came; a sudden erratic bobbing 
along the far edge of the semi-circle. There were always a few 
chispies traveling well ahead of their fellows and these were now 
in the net. Time to move. 

"Everybody hold!” he yelled and started moving his throttle 
forward. He had to establish some momentum before the main 
body of the school hit, or else he’d never get the net closed in 
time. 

As the white water speared into the pocket of net and boats, 
Albie threw the impeller control onto full forward and gripped the 
wheel with an intensity that bulged the muscles of his forearms. 

The hit came, tugging his head back and causing the impeller 
to howl in protest against the sudden reverse pull. As Albie 
turned his boat bard to starboard and headed for Zaro’s an- 
chorboat to complete the circle, the water within began to foam 
like green tea in a blender. He was tying up to Zaro’s craft when 
the first chispies began breaking water and zooming overhead. 
But the circumscribed area was too small to allow many of them 
to get away like that. Only those who managed to dart unimpeded 
from the deep to the surface could take to the air. The rest 
thrashed and flailed their wings with furious intensity, caroming 


TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 


27 



off the fibrous mesh of the net and colliding with each other as 
the gaffers bent to their work. 

The game was on. 

The boats rocked in the growing turbulence and this was when 
the men appreciated the added stability of centerboards on the 
flatbottomed scows. Their helmets would protect their heads, the 
safety wires gave them reasonable protection against being pulled 
into the water, but if a boat capsized . . . any man going into that 
bath of sharp swirling seawings would be ribbon-meat before he 
could draw a second breath. 

Albie finished securing his boat to Zaro’s, then grabbed his gaff 
and stood erect. He didn’t bother with a helmet, depending rather 
on forty years of experience to keep his head out of the way of 
airborne chispies, but made sure his safety wire was tightly clip- 
ped to the back of his belt before leaning over the water to put his 
gaff to work. 

There was an art to the gaffing, a dynamic synthesis of speed, 
skill, strength, courage, agility and hand-eye coordination that 
took years to master. The hook at the end of the long pole had to 
be driven under the scales with a cephalad thrust at a point for- 
ward of the chispen’s center of gravity. Then the creature’s 
momentum had to be adjusted — never countered — into a rising arc 
that would allow the gaff-handler to lever it out of the water and 
onto the deck of his scow. The freezer man — Zaro in Albie’s 
case — would take it from there, using hand hooks to slide the 
flopping fish onto the belt that would run it through the liquid 
nitrogen bath and into the insulated hold below. 

Albie worked steadily, rhythmically, his eyes methodically pick- 
ing out the shooting shapes, gauging speed and size. The latter 
was especially important: too large a fish and the pole would 
either break or be torn from his hands; too small and it wasn’t 
worth the time and effort. The best size was in the neighborhood 
of fifty kilos — about the weight of a pubescent human. The meat 
then had body and tenderness and brought the highest price. 

Wings slashed, water splashed, droplets flashed through the air 
and caught in Albie’s beard. Time was short. They had to pull in 
as many as they could before the inevitable happened. Insert the 
hook, feel the pull, lever the pole, taste the spray as the winged 
beastie angrily flapped the air on its way to the deck, free the 
hook and go back for the next. It was the first time all year Albie 
had truly felt alive. 

Then it happened as it always happened: the furious battering 


28 


TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



opened a weak spot in the net and the school leaked free into the 
sea. That, too, was part of the game. After a moment of breath- 
catching, the men hauled in the remains of the net to pick up the 
left-overs, the chispies too battered and bloodied by their confused 
and frantic companions to swim after them. 

"Look at that, will you?” the seated man said. "They broke out 
and now they’re heading back to the main body of the run! How 
do you explain that?” The standing man said nothing and the seat- 
ed one looked up at him. ."You used to work for Albie, didn’t 
you?” 

A nod in the dimness. "Once. Years ago. That was before I con- 
nected with GelkCo.” 

"Why don’t you pay him a visit? Never know ... he might come 
in handy.” 

"I might do that — if he’ll speak to me.” 

"Oh? He get mad when you quit?” 

"Didn’t quit. The old boy fired me.” 

"Hello, Albie.” 

Albie looked up from where he sat on the sand in a circle of his 
men, each with a pile of tattered net on his lap. The sun was low- 
ering toward the land and the newcomer was silhouetted against 
it, his features in shadow. But Albie recognized him. 

"Vic? That you, Vic?” 

"Yeah, Albie, it’s me. Mind if I sit down?” 

"Go ahead. Sand’s free.” Albie gave the younger man a careful 
inspection as he made himself comfortable. Vic had been raised a 
beach rat but that was hard to tell now. A tall man in his mid- 
thirties, he was sleek, slim, and dark with blue eyes and even fea- 
tures. The one-piece suit he wore didn’t belong on the beach. His 
black hair was slicked back, exposing a right ear bereft of its 
upper third, a physical trait acquired during his last year on the 
chispen nets. Restoration would have been no problem had he de- 
sired it, but apparently he preferred to flaunt the disfigurement 
as a badge of sorts. It seemed to Albie that he had broken Vic in 
on the nets only a few days ago, and had sacked him only yester- 
day. But it had been years . . . eleven of them. 

He tossed Vic a length of twine. "Here. Make yourself useful. 
Can I trust you to do it right?” 

"You never let a man forget, do you?” Vic said through an un- 
certain smile. 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 29 



"That’s because I don’t forget!” Albie knew there was a sharp 
edge on his voice; he refused to blunt it with a smile of his own. 

The other men glanced at each other, frowning. Albie’s mellow 
temperament was legend among the fishermen up and down the 
coast, yet here he was, glowering and suffusing the air with pal- 
pable tension. Only Zaro knew what lay behind the animosity. 

"Time for a break, boys,” Zaro said. "We’ll down a couple of ales 
and finish up later.” 

Albie never allowed dull-witted men out on the nets with him: 
they took the hint and walked off 

"What brings you back?” he asked when they were alone. 

"That.” Vic pointed toward the ship on the horizon. 

Albie kept his eyes down, concentrating on repairing the net. 
"Saw it this morning. What’s GelkCo I mean?” 

"She’s owned by the GelkCo Corporation.” 

"So they call it GelkCo /? How imaginative.” 

Vic shrugged and began patching a small hole in the net before 
him, his expression registering surprise and pleasure with the re- 
alization that his hands still knew what to do. 

"The Council of Advisors put GelkCo together so the planet 
could deal on the interstellar market as a corporation.” 

"Since when do you work for the C. of A.?” 

"Since my fishing career came to an abrupt halt eleven years 
ago.” His eyes sought Albie’s but couldn’t find them. "I went into 
civil service then. Been on a research and development panel for 
the Council.” 

"Civil service, eh?” Albie squinted against the reddening light. 
"So now you get taxes put into your pay instead of taken out.” 

Vic was visibly stung by the remark. "Not fair, Albie. I earn my 

pay-” 

"And what’s this corporation supposed to sell?” Albie said, ig- 
noring the protest. 

"Filet of chispen.” 

Albie smiled for the first time. "Oh, really? You mean they’ve 
still got chispies on their minds?” 

"That’s all they’ve got on their minds! And since I spent a good 
number of years with the best chispen fisher there is, it seemed 
natural that I be put in charge of developing the chispen as a 
major export.” 

"And that ship’s going to do it?” 

"It has to!” Vic said emphatically. "It must. Everything else was 
tried before they came to me — ” 

30 TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



"They came to me first.” 

"I know.” Vic could not suppress a smile. "And your suggestions 
were recorded as not only obscene, but physically impossible as 
well!” 

"That’s because they really aren’t interested in anything about 
those fish beyond the price per kilo.” 

"Perhaps you’re right, Albie. But that boat out there is unique 
and it’s going to make you obsolete. You won’t get hurt financial- 
ly, I know. You could’ve retired years ago . . . and should have. 
Your methods have seen their day. That ship’s going to bring this 
industry up to date.” 

"Obsolete!” The word escaped behind a grunt of disgust. Albie 
seriously doubted the C. of A.’s ability to render anything obso- 
lete . . . except maybe efficiency and clear thinking. For the past 
few years he had been keeping a careful eye on the Council’s 
abortive probes into the chispen industry, had watched with 
amusement as it tried every means imaginable to obtain a large 
supply of chispen filet short of actually going out and catching the 
fish. 

The chispies, of course, refused to cooperate, persisting in mi- 
gratory habits that strictly limited their availability. They 
spawned in the southern gulf during the winter and fattened 
themselves on the northern feeding shoals during the summer, 
and were too widely dispersed at those two locales to be caught in 
any significant numbers. Every spring they grouped and ran 
north but were too lean and fibrous from a winter of mating, fer- 
tilizing and hatching their eggs. 

Only in the fall, after a full summer of feasting on the abun- 
dant bait fish and bottom weed indigenous to their feeding 
grounds, were they right for eating, and grouped enough to make 
it commercially feasible to go after them. But Gelk’s Council of 
Advisors was convinced there existed an easier way to obtain the 
filet than casting nets on the water. It decided to raise chispen 
just like any other feed animal. But chispies are stubborn. They 
won’t breed in captivity, nor will they feed in captivity. This held 
true nof only for adult fish captured in the wild, but for eggs 
hatched and raised in captivity, and even for chispen clones. 

The Council moved on to tissue cultures of the filet but the re- 
sultant meat was said to be nauseating. 

It eventually became evident to even the most dunderheaded 
member of the Council that there weren’t going to be any 
shortcuts here. The appeal of chispen filet was the culmination of 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 31 



myriad environmental factors: the semi-annual runs along the 
coast gave the meat body and texture; the temperature, water 
quality, and bottom weed found only on their traditional feeding 
shoals gave it the unique euphorogenic flavor that made it such a 
delicacy. 

No, there was only one way to supply the discriminating pal- 
ates of Occupied Space with filet of chispen, and that was to go 
out on the sea and catch them during the fall runs. They had to 
be pulled out of the sea and flash-frozen alive before an intestinal 
enzyme washed a foul odor into the bloodstream and ruined the 
meat. No shortcuts. No easy way out. 

"I didn’t come to gloat, Albie. And I mean you no ill will. In 
fact, I may be able to offer you a job.” 

"And how could a lowly old gaffer help out on a monstrosity 
like that?” He turned back to his net repair. 

"By bringing fish into it.” 

Albie glanced up briefly, then down again. He said nothing. 

"You can’t fool me, Albie. Maybe all the rest, but not me. I used 
to watch you . . . used to see you talking to those fish, bringing 
them right into the net.” 

"You think I’m a psi or something?” The voice had laughter all 
around the edges. 

"I know it! And what I saw on the tracking screen this morning 
proves it!” 

"Crazy.” 

"No. You’re a psi! Maybe you don’t even know it, but you’ve got 
some sort of influence over those fish. You call them somehow and 
they come running. That’s why you’re the best.” 

"You’ll never understand, will you. It’s — ” 

"But I do understand! You’re a psi who talks to fish!” 

Albie’s dark lids eclipsed his eyes until only slim crescents of 
light gray remained. 

"Then why,” he said in a low voice, "did I have such a rotten 
season eleven years ago? Why did I have to fire the best first 
mate I ever bad? If I’m a psi, why couldn’t I call the chispies into 
the net that season? Why?” 

Vic was silent, keeping his eyes focused on the dark ship off 
shore. As he waited for an answer, Albie was pulled pastward to 
the last time the two of them had spoken. 

It had been Albie’s worst season since he began playing the 
game. After an excellent start, the numbers of chispen flowing 
into the freezers had declined steadily through the fall until that 


32 


TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



one day at season’s end when they sat in their boats and watched 
the final schools race by, free and out of reach. 

That was the day Albie hauled in the net out there on the 
water and personally gave it a close inspection, actually cutting 
off samples of net twine and unraveling them. What he found 
within sent him into a rage. 

The first mate, a young man named Vic who was wearing a 
bandage on his right ear, admitted to replacing the usual twine 
with fiber-wrapped wire. As Albie approached him in a menacing 
half-crouch, he explained quickly that he thought too many fish 
had been getting away. He figured the daily yield could be dou- 
bled if they reinforced the net with something stronger than plain 
twine. He knew Albie had only one hard and fast rule among his 
crew and that was to repair the net exclusively with the materials 
Albie provided — no exceptions. So Vic opted for stealth, intending 
to reveal his ploy at season’s end when they were all richer from 
the extra fish they had caught. 

Albie threw Vic into the sea that day and made him swim 
home. Then he cut the floats off the net and let it sink to the bot- 
tom. Since that day he had made a practice of being present 
whenever the net was repaired. 

A long time passed before Albie started feeling like himself 
again. Vic had been in his crew for six years. Albie had taken 
him on as a nineteen-year-old boy and had watched him mature 
to a man on the nets. He was a natural. Raised along the coast 
and as much at home on the sea at he was on land, he was soon a 
consummate gaffer and quickly rose to be the youngest first mate 
Albie had ever had. He watched over Vic, worried about him, bled 
with him when a chispie wing took a piece of his ear, and seri- 
ously considered taking him in as a partner after a few more 
years. Childless after a lifelong marriage to the sea, Albie felt he 
had found a son in Vic. 

And so it was with the anger of a parent betrayed by one of his own 
that Albie banished Vic from his boats. He had lived with the an- 
guish of that day ever since. 

".There’s lots of things I can’t explain about that season,” Vic 
said. "But I still think you’re a psi, and maybe you could help 
turn a big catch into an even bigger one. If you want to play coy, 
that’s your business. But at least come out and see the boat. I had 
a lot to do with the design.” 

"What’s in this for you, Vic? Money?” 

He nodded. "Lots of it. And a place on the Council of Advisors.” 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 33 



"That’s if everything goes according to plan. What if it fails?” 

"Then I’m through. But that’s not a realistic concern. It’s not 
going to be a question of failure or success, just a question of how 
successful.” He turned to Albie. "Coming out tomorrow?” 

Albie’s curiosity was piqued. He was debating whether or not to 
let Zaro take charge of the catch tomorrow . . . he’d do an 
adequate job . . . and it was early in the season .... "When?” 

"Mid-morning will be allright. The scanners have picked up a 
good-sized run up at the shoals. It’s on its way down and should 
be here by midday.” 

"Expect me.” 

A hundred meters wide and at least three times as long: those 
were Albie’s estimates. The ship was like nothing he had ever 
seen or imagined ... a single huge empty container, forty-five or 
fifty meters deep, tapered at the forward end, and covered over 
with a heavy wire mesh. Albie and Vic stood in a tiny pod on the 
port rim that housed the control room and crew quarters. 

"And this is supposed to make me obsolete?” 

"Afraid so.” Vic’s nod was slow and deliberate. "She’s been 
ready since spring. We’ve tested and retested — but without chis- 
pies. This’ll be her christening, her first blooding.” He pointed to 
the yellow streak creeping down the center of the scanning 
screen. "And that’s going to do it.” 

Albie noticed a spur off the central streak that appeared to be 
moving toward a dot at tbe left edge of the screen. 

"My, my!” he said with a dry smile. "Look at those chispies 
heading for my boats — even without me there to invite them in.” 

A puzzled expression flitted briefly across Vic’s features, then 
he turned and opened the hatch to the outside. 

"Let’s go up front. They should be in sight now.” 

LFnder a high white sun in a cloudless sky, the two men trod 
the narrow catwalk forward along the port rim. They stopped at a 
small observation deck where the hull began to taper to a point. 
Ahead on the cobalt sea, a swath of angry white water, eighty 
meters wide, charged unswervingly toward the hollow ship. A 
good sized run — Albie had seen bigger, but this was certainly a 
huge load of fish. 

"How many of those you figure on catching?” 

"Most of them.” 

Albie’s tone was dubious. "I’ll believe that when I see it. But 
let’s suppose you do catch most of them — you realize what’ll hap- 

34 TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



pen to the price of filet when you dump that much on the market 
at once?” 

"It will drop, of course,” Vic replied. "But only temporarily, and 
never helow a profitable level. Don’t worry: the Council has it all 
programmed. The lower price will act to expand the market by 
inducing more people to take advantage of the bargain and try it. 
And once you’ve tried filet of chispen . . .” He didn’t bother to 
complete the thought. 

"Got it all figured out, eh?” 

"Down to the last minute detail. When this ship proves itself, 
we’ll start construction on more. By next season there’ll be a 
whole fleet lying in wait for the chispies.” 

"And what will that kind of harvesting do to them? You’ll be 
thinning them out . . . maybe too much. That’s not how the game’s 
played, Vic. We could end up with no chispies at all some day.” 

"We’ll only be taking the bigger ones.” 

"The little guys need those bigger ones for protection.” 

Vic held up a hand. "Wait and see. It’s almost time.” He sig- 
naled to the control pod. "Watch.” 

Water began to rush into the hold as the prow split along its 
seam and fanned open into a giant scoop-like funnel; the aft panel 
split vertically down the middle and each half swung out to the 
rear. The ship, reduced now to a huge open tube with neither 
prow nor stern, began to sink. 

Albie experienced an instant of alarm but refused to show it. 
All this was obviously part of the process. When the hull was 
immersed to two-thirds of its depth, the descent stopped. 

Vic pointed aft. "There’s a heavy metal grid back there to let 
the immature chispies through. But there’ll be no escape for the 
big ones. In effect, what we’re doing here is putting a huge, tear- 
proof net across the path of a major run, something no one’s dared 
to do before. With the old methods, a run like this would make 
chowder out of anything that tried to stop it.” 

"How do you know they won’t just go around you?” 

"You know as well as I do, Albie, these big runs don’t change 
course for anything. We’ll sit here, half-sunk in the water, and 
they’ll run right into the hold there; they’ll get caught up against 
the aft grid, and before they can turn around, the prow will close 
up tight and they’re ours. The mesh on top keeps them from fly- 
ing out.” 

Albie noticed Vic visibly puffing with pride as he spoke, and 
couldn’t resist one small puncture: "Looks to me like all you’ve 
TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 35 



got here is an oversized, motorized seining scoop.” 

Vic blinked, swallowed, then went on talking after a brief hesi- 
tation. "When they’re locked in, we start to circulate water 
through the hold to keep them alive while we head for a plant up 
the coast where they’ll be flash-frozen and processed.” 

"All you need is some cooperation from the fish.” 

Vic pointed ahead. "I don’t think that’ll be a problem. The run’s 
coming right for us.” 

Albie looked from the bright anticipation in Vic’s face to the 
ship sitting silent and open-mawed, to the onrushing horde of fin- 
ned fury. He knew what was going to happen next but didn’t have 
the heart to say it. Vic would have to learn for himself. 

The stars were beginning to poke through the sky’s growing 
blackness. Only a faint, fading glow on the western horizon re- 
mained to mark the sun’s passing. None of the moons was rising 
yet. 

With the waves washing over his feet, Albie stood and watched 
the autumn aurora begin to shimmer over the sea. The cool pre- 
vailing breeze carried smoke from his after-dinner pipe away to- 
ward the land. Darkness expanded slowly and was almost com- 
plete when he heard the voice. 

"Why’d you do it, Albie?” 

It wasn’t necessary to turn around. He knew the voice, but had 
not anticipated the fury he sensed caged behind it. 

"Didn’t do a thing, Vic.” He kept his eyes on the faint, wavering 
flashes of the aurora, his own voice calm. 

"You diverted those fish!” 

"That’s what you’d like to believe. I’m sure, but that’s not the 
way it is.” 

The run had been almost on top of them. The few strays that 
always travel in the lead had entered the hold and slammed into 
the grate at the other end. Then the run disappeared. The white 
water evaporated and the sea became quiet. In a panic, Vic had 
run back to the control pod where he learned from the scanner 
that the run had sounded to the bottom of the trench and was 
only now rising toward the surface . . . half a kilometer aft of the 
ship. Vic had said nothing, glaring only momentarily at Albie and 
then secluding himself in his quarters for the rest of the day. 

"It’s true!” Vic’s voice was edging toward a scream. "I watched 
your lips! You were talking to those fish . . . telling them to dive!” 

Albie swung around, alarmed by the slurred tones and growing 


36 


TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



hysteria in the younger man’s voice. He could not make out Vic’s 
features in the darkness, but could see the swaying outline of his 
body. He could also see what appeared to be a length of driftwood 
dangling from his right hand. 

"How much’ve you had to drink, Vic?” 

"Enough.” The word was deformed by its extrusion through 
Vic’s clenched teeth. "Enough to know I’m ruined and you’re to 
blame.” 

"And what’s the club for? Gonna break my head?” 

"Maybe. If you don’t agree to straighten out all the trouble you 
caused me today, I just might.” 

"And how do you expect me to do that?” 

"By guiding the fish into the boat instead of under it.” 

"Can’t do that, Vic.” Albie readied himself for a dodge to one 
side or the other. The Vic he had known on the nets would never 
swing that club. But eleven years had passed . . . and this Vic was 
drunk. "Can’t do it as I am now, and I sure as hell won’t be able 
to do it any better with a broken head. Sorry.” 

There followed a long, tense, silent moment. Then two sounds 
came out of the darkness: one, a human cry — half sob, half scream 
of rage; followed by the grating thud of wood hurled against wet 
sand. Albie saw Vic’s vague outline slump into a sitting position. 

"Dammit, Albie! I trusted you! I brought you out there in good 
faith and you scuttled me!” 

Albie stepped close to Vic and squatted down beside him. He 
put the bit of his pipe between his teeth. The bowl was cold but 
he didn’t bother relighting it. 

"It wasn’t me, Vic. It was the game. That ship of yours breaks 
all the rules of the game.” 

" 'The game!’ ” Vic said, head down, bitterness compressing his 
voice. "You’ve been talking about games since the day I met you. 
This is no game, Albie! This is my life . . . my future!” 

"But it’s a game to the chispies. That’s what most people don’t 
understand about them. That’s why only a few of us are any good 
at catching them: those fish are playing a game with us.” 

Vic lifted his head. "What do you take me for?” 

"It’s true. Only a few of us have figured it out, and we don’t 
talk it around. Had you stayed with me a few years longer, I 
might have told you if you hadn’t figured it out for yourself by 
then. Truth is. I’m no psi and I don’t direct those fish into my net; 
they find their way in on their own. If they get caught in my net, 
it’s because they want to.” 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 37 



"You’ve been out on the nets too long, Albie. Chispies can’t 
think.” 

"I’m not saying they can think like you and me, but they’re not 
just dumb hunks of filet traveling on blind instinct, either. Maybe 
it only happens when they’re packed tight and running, maybe 
they form some sort of hive-mind then that they don’t have when 
they’re spread out. I don’t know. I don’t have the words or knowl- 
edge to get across what I mean. It’s a gut feeling ... I think they 
look on the net as a game, a challenge .they’ll accept only if we 
play by the rules and only if we give them a decent chance of 
winning.” 

He paused, waiting for another wisecrack from Vic, but none 
came. He continued. "They can gauge a net’s strength. Don’t 
know how, but they do it. Maybe it’s those few fish always travel- 
ing in the lead ... if they find the net too strong, if there’s no 
chance of them breaking out, they must send out some kind of 
warning and the rest of the run avoids it. Sounds crazy, I know, 
but there’s one inescapable fact I’ve learned to accept and apply, 
and it’s made me the best: the weaker the net, the bigger the 
catch.” 

"So that’s why you fired me when you found out I was repairing 
the nets with wire!” 

"Exactly. You were hunting for a shortcut with the chispies and 
there aren’t any. You made the net too strong, so they decided to 
play the game somewhere else. I wound up with the worst season 
I ever had.” 

"And I wound up in the water and out of a job!” Vic began to 
laugh, a humorless sound, unpleasant to hear. "But why didn’t 
you explain this then?” 

"Why didn’t you come to me when you wanted to experiment 
with my nets? Why didn’t you go buy your own tear-proof net and 
try it out on your own time? I may have overreacted, but you 
went behind my back and betrayed my trust. The entire crew 
went through pretty lean times until the next season because you 
broke the rules of the game!” 

Vic laughed again. "A game! I must be drunker than I 
thought — it almost makes sense!” 

"After forty years of hauling those winged devils out of the wa- 
ter, it’s the only way I can make sense out of it.” 

"But they get caught and die, Alhie! How can that be a game 
for them?” 

"Only a tiny portion of the run challenges me at a time, and 
38 TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 



only a small percentage of those go into the freezer. The rest 
break free. What seems like a suicide risk to us may be only a 
diversion to them. Who knows what motivates them? This is their 
planet, their sea, and the rules of the game are entirely up ^to 
them. I’m just a player — one who figured out the game and be- 
came a winner.” 

"Then I’m a loser, I guess — the biggest damn loser ever to 
play.” He rose to his feet and faced out toward the running lights 
of the GelkCo I as it lay at anchor a league off shore. 

"That you are,” Albie said, rising beside him and trying to keep 
his tone as light as possible. "You built the biggest, toughest 
damn net they’ve ever seen, one they’d never break out of ... so 
they decided not to play.” 

Vic continued to stare out to sea, saying nothing. 

"That’s where you belong,” Albie told him. "You were born for 
the sea, like me. You tried your hand with those stiff-legged land- 
roamers on the Council of Advisors and came up empty. But you 
and me, we’re not equipped to deal with their kind, Vic. They 
change the rules as they go along, trying to get what they want 
by whatever means necessary. They sucked you in, used you up, 
and now they’re gonna toss you out. So now’s the time to get back 
on the water. Get out there and play the game with the chispies. 
They play hard and fast, but always by the same rules. You can 
die out there, but not because they cheated.” 

Vic made no move, no sound. 

"Vic?” 

No reply. 

Albie turned and walked up the dune alone. 

"Albieeeeee!” 

One of the dock hands came running along the jetty. Albie had 
just pushed off and was following his crew into the early morning 
haze. He idled his scow and waited for the man to get closer. 

"Guy back at the boathouse wants to know if you need an extra 
hand today.” 

Albie held his breath. "What’s he look like?” 

"I dunno,” the dock hand said with a shrug. "Tall, dark hair, a 
piece missing from his right — ” 

Albie smiled through his beard as he reversed the scow. "Tell 
him to hurry ... I haven’t got all day!” 

And out along the trench, the chispies moved in packs, running 
south and looking for sport along the way. 

TO FILL THE SEA AND AIR 39 



CAPTAIN TITTLEBAUM’S TEST 

by Martin Gardner 

Captain Oscar Tittlebaum, in charge of the Earth’s first space 
station — it was located midway between the Earth and the 
Moon — was constantly annoyed by how often his crew members 
failed to understand what he believed to be clear instructions on 
the orders and memos he issued from time to time. To test each 
man and woman’s ability to follow simple directions, he prepared 
the following test. You are invited to take it to see how you would 
have scored had you been a member of the space station crew. 

THE TEST 

Before starting this test, read all the instructions carefully. Use 
a pencil or a pen to enter all required information in the spaces 
indicated. No erasure of any answer is permitted. However, the 
test has no time limit, so proceed slowly, and follow all instruc- 
tions to the letter. 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. In the six squares below print the letters in the last name of 
the man who formulated the three laws of robotics. 

□ □□□□□ 

2. In the nine squares below print the initial letters of the 
known planets of the solar system, starting with the initial of the 
outermost planet in the first square, then proceeding in sequence 
to the planet nearest the sun. 

□ □□□□□□□□ 

3. Cross out just seven letters in the statement below so that 
what remains will still express a sum of 18. 

FIVE PLUS SIX PLUS SEVEN 

4. Draw a circle around the verb that does not belong in the 


40 



following set: 


BRING BUY CATCH DRAW 
FIGHT SEEK TEACH THINK 

5. In the square below put the number of the century in which 
July 4, of the year 2000, will occur. 

□ 

6. Print in the space below the name of the only U.S. state that 
has a letter in common with each of the other 49 states. 


7. What is the length of line x in the triangle drawn below? 
Print this length in the square on the right. 


□ 


8. In the six cells below print a three-letter abbreviation for 
one month, followed by a three-letter abbreviation for another 
month, to produce a six-letter English word. 

□ □ □ □ □ 

9. Place a prime digit in each of the three cells below. No two 
digits must be alike, and 0 and 1 are, of course, excluded. The 
three-digit number that results must be a multiple of each of the 
prime digits. 




□ □ □ 

10. At noon and at midnight the long and short hands of a 
clock are together. Between noon and midnight, how many times 

CAPTAIN TITTLEBAUM’S TEST 41 




does the long hand pass the short hand? Print the answer in the 
square below. 


□ 

11. Write on the line below: "I always follow instructions care- 
fully.” 


12. Ignore all previous instructions with the exception of the 
test’s first paragraph that begins with "Before” and ends with 
"letter.” Sign your full name below and give your copy of the test 
to the Captain. 


Now that you have (probably) flunked Captain Tittlebaum’s 
test, turn to page 101 for the answers to the first ten question. 





IN THE CELLAR 

by Larry Niven 

art: Jack Gaughan 



Mr. Niven tells us that he never can 
predict when the urge will strike to 
turn out one of these little pieces. 
When it does, and he does, we’re 
always happy to use them. 


43 



The man in the folding chair was the only one in the room, as 
far as I could tell without moving my head. He had a round pink 
face and a pink scalp that showed through thin blond hair, and 
blue eyes. He wouldn’t take his eyes off me. The .44 in his lap 
looked too big for him. 

I couldn’t move my head, or grimace with the pain in my arms, 
or open my eyes more than a slit. He thought I was still out cold. 
I wanted to keep it that way. I needed time to figure this out. The 
guard bothered me. He was too soft to be just muscle, and too pa- 
tient. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t walk around, he didn’t twitch. 
He just watched me. 

My feet swung six inches above the dirt floor. I seemed to be 
hanging by my wrists. The walls were rough stone. Behind the 
seated man was a big wooden door with an iron bar across it. The 
air was cool and damp, with an underground feel. No windows. 

I must have twitched. He smiled and spoke in a voice I knew. 
"Awake, Mr. Stone? Your skull must have incredible tensile 
strength. I suppose that’s natural enough in your profession. You 
all seem to have that trait.” 

His voice was too big for him, like the gun. A resonant, com- 
manding voice. I’d heard it once on the telephone. The Lynx: the 
faceless mastermind of an international criminal organization 
centered in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lynx had gotten me first. 

I looked up. It wasn’t good. There were manacles welded around 
my wrists. Steel chains linked them to bolt plates in the stone 
ceiling. 

"Moose hit you with a a crowbar,” the Lynx said. "I thought 
he’d crushed your skull. . . . Well, it won’t help you. You’ve im- 
pinged on my activities once too often.” 

"Three times so far.” Keep him talking, play for time. I won- 
dered if he’d shoot. He didn’t look like he’d ever fired a gun. 
Maybe he hadn’t . . . himself 

He said, "Four times. In the Case of the Whistling Rapist. The 
girl was one of my most valuable people, until you altered her 
loyalty. She would have told you far too much.” 

"You killed Lila? You little snake!” 

He frowned and raised the gun, two-handed. 

"I didn’t mean it, ” I said quickly. "I lost my temper.” 

"It doesn’t matter. You’ve seen my face.” 

"But—” 

"They call you unkillable,” said the Lynx. "Mike Hammer, Sam 
Spade, Mike Shane, Lew Archer, Shell Scott, you’re all supposed 

44 INTHECELLAR 



to be unkillable.” He considered me across the gunsight. "You, 
Stone. You’ve challenged the Mafia, the Syndicate, the Cosa 
Nostra, the Rosicrucians, even the Scientologists. Always you es- 
cape. I wonder . . The gun steadied. 

"Now just a minute.” 

He smiled. "Pleading?” 

"You don’t know how much Lila told me. Or how much I wrote 
down.” Question me. Lynx. Anything to buy time. Something 
would turn up. Something always did. 

He thought it over. "No, ” he said, and fired. 

He knew guns. The slugs slammed into me in steady rhythm: 
heart, chest, chest, abdomen. I tried to scream with the flowering 
agony, and couldn’t. The impacts swung me back against the 
stone wall. 

The agony faded. I said, "Damn! Now you’ve done it.” 

The pink man’s eyes went wide and round. "Why, they’re heal- 
ing!” He paced a careful circle around me, watching the wounds 
pucker and fade. "You are unkillable!” 

"Nah. It’s just that some of us heal fast.” 

He walked backward until the wall stopped him. His voice came 
out shockingly normal, considering he was still trying to back 
through the wall. "Very interesting. Stone. But why were you 
afraid of being shot? If you can’t be killed, or even hurt — ” 

"Because it’s a secret.” I broke the chains and came for him. He 
used his bullets, then tried to climb the stone wall. He didn’t 
make it. 



IN THE CELLAR 


45 



THE SF CONVENTIONAL CALENDAR 

by Erwin S. Strauss 

A lot of gatherings of SF authors, artists and fans this time— get 
out to one near you soon. When writing, enclose a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope (SASE). When calling (10 am to 10 pm only, and 
not collect) , identify yourself and your reason for calling. For a later, 
longer list— and a sample of SF folksongs— send me an SASE at 
10015 Greenbelt Road #101, Seabrook MD 20801. If you have 
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as above). If my machine answers, leave your number; I’ll return 
your call. Look for me at cons as “Filthy Pierre.” Special greetings 
to those of you I met at the Phoenix WorldCon. 

ChattaCon, Jan. 5-7, 1979, Chattanooga TN. A. D. Foster, J. Chalker, Tucker. (615) 892-5127 
HexaCon, Jan. 5-7, Lancaster PA. C. J. Cherryh and Stu Schiffman. (717) 233-3943 
OtherCon, Jan. 14-16, College Sta. TX. M. Z. Bradley. Write: 208 Dellwood, Bryan TX 77801 
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DeepSouthCon, July 20-22, New Orleans LA. 1903 Dante, New Drieans LA 70118. (504) 861-2602 
SeaCon, Aug. 23-27, Brighton (near London), England. The World SF Convention for 1979. Join 
now, before the rates go up. Finder Box 428, Latham NY 12110. (518) 783-7673 
NorthAmeriCon, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, Louisville KY. The continental con, while the WorldCon is 
abroad. Fred Phol, Lester Del Rey and our own George Scithers. Everything the WorldCon has 
but the Hugos— plus a river cruise. Box 58009, Louisville KY 40258. (502) 636-5340 
NorEasCon II, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 1980, Boston MA. The World SF Convention for 1980. Damon 
Knight, Kate Wilhelm, B. Pelz. Join in 1978 for $15. Box 46, MIT PO, Cambridge MA 02139 

46 




AD ASTRA, AL 


A1 left three kids and an ugly wife 
To search the stars for a brand-new life 
For a place where maidens with silver hair 
And strange-colored eyes were unaware 
Of in-laws that dropped in to eat, 

And pets that bit with muddy feet, 

Weedy lawns that turned to hay 
If you didn’t mow them every day 
Of — well, the list itself was long; 

A1 craved unearthly wine and song. 

He landed on a tiny planet: 

Cold as ice cubes, hard as granite. 

With a bright blue sun and crystal trees. 

Golden rivers and ochre seas, 

A race of aliens, tall and fair — 

And a slender maiden with silver hair. 

She had strange colored eyes, and a cosy haunt 
That held three kids and a cranky aunt, 

A pet that chewed on A1 routinely 
(With six legs and a smell unseemly — ) 

And, well — the list itself is long. 

Which proves the adage isn’t wrong: 

"Home is where the crabgrass is, despite the crystal trees. 
And even dogs with six legs scratch the same old fleas.” 



47 




BACK TO BYZANTIUM 

by Mark J, McGarry 

art: Karl Kofoed 





The author was born on 6 February 1958. 

He is currently attending State University 
of New York at Albany (for English ) — 
and writing the rest of the time. He 
reports that he is just reaching the 
point where he can support himself from 
this crazy business ("Back to Byzantium” 
is his fourth sale), and is hard 
at work on several other major projects. 

"That is no country for old men.” 

— William Butler Yeats 

His sandals found footing in the shifting slope of the dune. The 
weight of the sun on his back did not slow him. The stillness of 
the air did not affect him. He, who had been of and with the des- 
ert for all of his thirty years, was well-accustomed to it. And yet 
he remembered some other time, and he thought of cool metal 
corridors and domed gardens with regret at their loss. 

He called himself Ken Irish, for reasons of his own. His sandals 
were of a vegetable material, and within them the soles of his feet 
were tough and hard. A pack was on his back; it was stitched and 
patched so thoroughly that hardly a trace of the original material 
remained. His clothes were rags. He had trimmed their frayed 
edges many times; he was nearly indecent. 

Irish was fully as beaten and scarred as his trappings. His legs 
and hands were scarred, his eyes closed to slits by the sun. The 
skin of his face was seamed, his forehead furrowed; the lines of 
age had come to him too soon. But, unlike his clothes, he grew 
stronger with the passage of time, less vulnerable to the sun at its 
zenith or to the icy lashes of the wind at twilight. His breath was 
easy, his lungs full with each breath, and from his cracked and 
dry lips a song he had remembered fluttered like a banner in the 
dead air. 

To arms, to arms, ye brave! 

Th’ avenging sword unsheath! 

March on, march on, all hearts resolved 
To victory or death. 

The cadence of his stride did not quite match the rhythm of the 
tune. 


50 



He was lost. He had had no destination in mind when he had 
fled the village uncounted miles to the east, many days ago, but 
he had thought he would reach some other, friendlier sanctuary 
long before this. He had not. Still, he survived, though each shift- 
ing dune was a bit higher than the one behind. 

Abruptly, he stopped singing. He suddenly realized he had been 
hearing a sound — a trilling, some sort of melodic warbling — for 
several minutes now. It was a human voice, in song. He quick- 
ened his pace, the sand sliding, rasping from his feet as he climbed. 
Sensations he had felt but not recognized until now became 
apparent. A cacophony of human-sounds (an occasional clank, a 
shout, the cry of some domesticated animal) played out a 
background for the singer Irish saw as he crested the dune. 

Her clothing was a variation of the robes most desert-dwellers 
wore. The robes flowed loose, except where belted tight at waist 
and under breasts. There was deviation from the usual pattern, 
based on the Bedouin aba, in the square-cut neckline. She wore a 
wide-brimmed hat of woven grain stalks rather than the standard 
ighal or head-piece. Her face was largely hidden from him by the 
knife-edged shadow of the hat, but from what he could see he 
judged her to be quite young, perhaps only fifteen or sixteen. She 
was squatting on the sand at the base of the dune. 

Irish paused a dozen meters away (she had not yet noticed him) 
and said simply, "Hellay,” in a voice just loud enough to carry to 
her ears. She looked up sharply, eyes wide, and gave a small cry 
of surprise. She stood, took a step backward, and then another — but 
more slowly. Irish could see she had been sorting small bits of 
metal that caught the sun and tossed it into his eyes. Slowly, so 
as not to alarm her, he started crabbing slowly down the side of 
the dune. 

She backed up two more steps. "Stay away.” Her voice quavered, 
and was a bit too loud. 

He held up his hands, palms outward, and slowed his pace. "As 
you wish,” he said agreeably, but not stopping. "Fm unarmed. I 
don’t mean you any harm.” She said nothing, but did not retreat 
farther as Irish reached level ground. Beyond her he could see a 
few square kilometers of flatland, a dried and crusty surface that 
might have been a lake a decade ago. An encampment (surely it 
was too crude to be a village, he thought) of compacted sand dwell- 
ings and a scattering of ragged, faded tents occupied a portion of 
the basin, perhaps three hundred meters distant. He saw few 
people, and suspected no one but the girl had seen him arrive. 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


51 



"Would it alarm you if I sat down?” he said. "I’m very tired.” 
He could see she was pretty. 

"I’m going to get my fathers and brothers.” 

"I’m sure I’d enjoy meeting them.” He sat down. 

She chewed her lip nervously, but now he thought he saw a 
flicker of interest in her eyes. "You came out of the desert, alone?” 

"That I did, sweetheart.” 

She frowned briefly. "My name’s Bethel.” Irish nodded, smiling 
but saying nothing. He liked her breasts. Finally, she asked: "What’s 
your name?” 

"Ozymandias,” he said, straight-faced. 

"That’s a strange name.” 

He spread his arms, and let sand fall from his outstretched fin- 
gers. "Look on my works, ye flighty, and despair.” He paused. 
"Actually, I’m calling myself Ken Irish this time through.” 

"You can’t have more than one name,” she said. 

He smiled. 

"Ken Irish isn’t your real name,” she accused without hostil- 
ity — or much conviction. 

"Call me Ken.” 

"Where do jmu come from . . . Ken?” 

"Turat,” he said. "To the north. Can we continue this — ?” 

"But that’s many days’ journey! You must be tired, and hun- 
gry.” 

"Darlin’, everything is 'many days’ journey’ from here,” he said 
in a voice gone flat. His original animation had slipped from him. 
Now that he could allow himself the feeling, he realized that he 
was fatigued. 

With rest and food a few hundred meters away, he was impa- 
tient for it. 

"Maybe we can continue this show-and-tell later. Perhaps I’ll 
even show you mine, if you show me yours. But right now I’d like 
to rest in the shade over there, and maybe take a little water. I 
have some paper; I can pay you.” He glanced down at his feet. He 
reached between them and picked up a coin lying on the sand 
there. She started forward, then checked herself. There were at 
least two dozen coins; she had been playing with them. "I have a 
few coins for your collection,” he added, "if you want them.” 

"We don’t have many strangers here, but I guess you can come 
with me,” she said. Then, remembering a lesson not well-learned, 
she added, "But don’t follow too closely.” Ken stood, slipped out of 
his pack and slung it over one shoulder. 

52 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



"Don’t forget those,” he said, nodding to the coins. He stepped 
back two paces to allow her to retrieve them. As she stooped, he 
saw the outline of her back and bottom more distinctly, and felt a 
mounting tension within him. He controlled it, not easily, but 
completely: that could quickly lead to a final and unpleasant de- 
struction in these nomadic tribes, with their unsophisticated cus- 
toms. He wiped the thought from his mind and followed Bethel at 
a discreet distance into the encampment. 

Ian Ildrid scrutinized the stranger as a botanist might a new 
herb, and for the same purpose: to determine its use, and hazards. 
His gaze made Ken uncomfortable; he looked dangerous. Ildrid’s 
hair was rough-cut short, his face was thick-boned and rugged. A 
sore on his lip and several on his neck indicated skin cancer, an 
affliction that killed many desert-folk before they were forty. Il- 
drid, Ken thought, might have been handsome, were it not for the 
lesions. 

"Strangers seldom come across us, or we them,” Ildrid said. "We 
like it better that way.” 

"You can always send me away,” Ken said. "But — as you 
pointed out — it would probably prove fatal to me.” 

"We’re a small band,” continued Ildrid after a moment, as if he 
had not heard. "We pride ourselves on making our way honestly, 
without the thieving and trickery of most other bands. To do this, 
each of us must do his part. For your paper. I’ve given you food 
and water. If you’ve come from Turat, it’s not likely you’ll wish to 
return there, though it’s the closest town. Masque is closest after 
that — eight days’ journey — and it’s there we’re headed. You 
wouldn’t make it by yourself. Cruel as it may seem to you, you’ll 
get no help from us unless you have something of yourself to 
give.” Bethel stood in the back of the dark, low-ceilinged tent, 
watching quietly. She accepted her father’s will as natural law 
and without question, but as with many other things of natime, 
she felt this was unfair. Four other men stood in the tent: leaders 
of the separate families that made up Ildrid’s band. 

"I’m a student and an adventurer,” said Ken. He paused. "I 
think I can say I have more knowledge than any of you in any 
discipline you’d care to name. Perhaps not direct experience, in all 
things, but I can do anything you’d have a need for with little or 
no instruction, and with no error. What have you got a need for?” 

Ian frowned. The other men smiled at Ken’s impertinence. 
"You’ve got self-confidence, that’s for sure,” said Ian. "Ziff, what’ve 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


53 



we a need for?” 

The shortest man shrugged. "Horses. Some more goats. That’s 
two things this fellow can’t supply.” 

Ken made an impatient sound. "You can’t be secure here,” he 
said. "A scout, medicine man, herder, trader, priest?” 

"No need for priests,” said one of the men. "And unless you’ve 
brought your own herbs and potions, you’ll find nothing to make 
your medicines with.” 

"In Masque I can get medicines — we can get medicines. Then I 
can help you.” 

Ian smiled. "But then you’d be in Masque and have no need of 
us. No one’s sick anyway. We could take a herder or leave him — 
it’s no difference to me — but since Bethel’s the one that brought 
you in, we’ll take you.” Ian paused: no one disagreed with him. 
He nodded. "We’ll need someone to show him around. Who volun- 
teers?” 

"Durk does; I’ll go get him,” said one of the men. Someone snick- 
ered, and they all smiled. Ziff left the tent, spilling light inside. 
Ken blinked. 

"Who’s Durk?” he asked. 

"Our finder,” said Ian. 

Ken frowned. 

"For one who claims to know so much,” said Ian, "you don’t 
know so much. A finder can lead us to the metal wells and the 
shattered cities. Once or twice, Durk has steered us around lakes 
and mountains we hadn’t known would be there, and saved us 
time.” 

."And he can re’ad maps,” said a tall, balding man. 

"Though that’s not much of an asset, there being no maps of 
this land,” said Ian. He gave Ken a hard look. "Are you really a 
medician?” 

"With the proper tools — yes.” 

"Good. Until we get to Masque, don’t be underfoot. If you’re not 
as good a man as I think you are, you won’t be staying with us, 
medician or not.” 

The tent flap closed again, and Ziff entered, followed by another 
man. He was surprisingly old for a nomad — forty-five at least, 
maybe even fifty years old. His skin was clear, though his face 
was wrinkled by age and exposure. His hair was long, light gray, 
pulled back and tied with a leather thong. He was Ken’s height, 
but much broader. Durk probably outweighed him by fifteen or 
eighteen kilograms. Like the other men, he was dressed in a 

54 BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



belted aba and sandals. 

"Durk,” Ian began, "this is a new man who’ll be joining us, 
name of Ken Irish. I want you to show him around, make sure he 
doesn’t do anything to anyone he’s not supposed to do it to.” 

Durk suddenly looked angry, but Ken saw he was trying to con- 
trol it. "I have to plot the route to Masque,” said Durk. "There’s a 
canyon . . .” 

"You can do that, too,” said Ian reasonably. "You’ll be showing 
the new man around.” Durk nodded curtly, turned, and left the 
tent. Ken followed, after thanking Ian with a small motion of his 
hand. As he had raised the tent flap to leave, he had smiled at 
Bethel, and her answering smile had warmed him. 

Outside, he jogged to catch up with Durk. Ken matched the 
other’s stride and they walked in silence for a few moments, until 
Ken said, "You don’t seem very pleased with your assignment.” 

Durk said nothing. Ken shrugged. After a while, Durk said al- 
most defiantly, "There’s more important work for a finder to do.” 

"How did you get to be a finder?” asked Ken. 

Durk made a rude sound in his nose. "You’re born a finder. 
Don’t you know what a finder is?” 

Ken bristled at his tone of voice, but only shrugged again in re- 
ply- 

"There’s some I’ve met — -and this includes me — who can re- 
member places we’ve never been, remember other lives we’ve had. 
I can remember the lives of all my fathers back a few hundred 
years or so, before the big wars. I remember where the cities used 
to be, and the lay of the land. It’s a useful talent. These people 
know they need me.” 

"Racial memory?” asked Ken. 

Durk looked at him sharply (it was not a term the average 
nomad might use), but only nodded. To cover the awkward si- 
lence, Ken asked, "You said there were more of you?” 

"I’ve met nearly a dozen, in my memory, but none in this gen- 
eration.” 

Ken nodded, understanding. 

"You accepted that pretty easily,” said Durk. "Before I found 
these people, anyone I’d met was hostile to finders — if they be- 
lieved they existed at all. Had you heard of them before?” 

"Sure,” said Ken. "Some.” 

"We’re not very popular,” said Durk. 

"No,” Ken said half to himself, remembering the scene in 
Masque — and others. "You’re not very popular at all.” 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


55 



There were less than a hundred people in the camp, and over 
half of them were men. There were few children. In the center of 
the camp was a tent larger and in better repair than any of the 
others. After Durk had shown him through the camp, he had left 
Ken at the entrance and gone about his other business. Ken went 
inside. 

It was a dining hall. Ovens and small, sheltered fires were kept 
in the rear. Pallets and cushions provided seats. A center area 
three meters square had been left clear for entertainment, but 
there were no entertainers now. Preserving spices in the foods 
lent the air a tangy smell that was not unpleasant. The atmos- 
phere was warm and slightly moist, a welcome contrast to the 
arid chill dusk had brought outside. Ken took a meal of stringy 
gray meat, some vegetables, and a cup of pale wine. He looked 
around for a place to sit. 

"Hellay,” said a voice from very close to him. 

"Hellay, Bethel,” he said, turning. The girl smiled up at him. 
She led him to a ring of cushions near the front of the tent. He set 
his tray on a thick pallet there, and sat down after Bethel. 

"It’s been a long time since I’ve stood in a cafeteria line,” said 
Ken, around a mouthful of some stewed, doughy plant. 

"All the other bands we’ve seen just crowd around until the food 
is gone,” said Bethel. "Somebody thought of this way . . . Durk, I 
think. You’ve seen this done elsewhere?” 

He nodded, keeping his eyes on his food. "Quite a long time 
ago.” 

"What did you call it?” 

" 'Cafeteria.’ ” 

She repeated the word slowly, and shrugged. "We don’t call it 
anything.” They ate in silence for a few minutes, then she put her 
plate aside and looked at him. "You talk funny.” 

"You talk — ” he began sharply, then shook his head, and smiled 
in apology. 

"Where do you come from?” she asked after a moment. "You 
really haven’t told me.” 

He put his own plate aside. Though the portion had been too 
large for his shrunken stomach, he had finished it with difficulty. 
"It’s very far away,” he said. 

"How far?” 

"You could never get there. It’s many years’ journey.” 

"Nothing is that far away.” 

"This place is,” said Ken. "It was called Byzantium.” 

56 BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



"I’ve never heard of it,” she said, still disbelieving, but attentive 
now. "What is it like there?” 

"It’s not there anymore,” he said flatly. "That’s why I left. 
Byzantium was a land so vast, a man couldn’t walk around its 
borders in a lifetime.” 

"Where is it now?” 

"Gone . . . before either of us were born.” 

She pounced: "But you said you once lived there.” 

"She’s caught you there,” said Durk, sitting between them. 
"You tell fairy tales, Ken, but you should tell Bethel they’re noth- 
ing more than that.” 

"Oh, I know,” said Bethel. "They’re nice to listen to, though. It’s 
good to think that there are other places away from here.” She 
reached past Durk and squeezed Ken’s hand, a gesture that sur- 
prised him. "Will you tell me more stories, Ken?” 

"Maybe later,” he said. "I think I want to sleep now.” 

"I’ll show you the way,” said Bethel. 

"No,” said Durk. "I’m going now, too. I’ll show him.” 

"All right. Good night, Ken.” 

"Good night.” 

The evening air slapped at him, making him shiver. Ken drew 
the cloak he had been given tighter around him. 

"You should stop the stories,” said Durk. 

Ken looked at him. "What do you mean?” 

"It’s safe here, w'ith these people. No one outside this camp 
knows I’m a finder. I’d been running a long time before I came 
here. For me, this is a place to rest. To hide, if you want to put it 
that way.” From his tone of voice, Durk did not like putting it 
that way. 

Ken looked at him steadily. "I don’t know what you’re talking 
about.” 

Durk shrugged. "It’s on your own head, then. One finder can 
tell another, you know.” He added coldly, "You’re in that hut over 
there.” 

Ken was sharing quarters with a half-dozen other men. Without 
disturbing them, he flopped down on an empty pallet. Sleep was a 
long time in coming. 

Ken was awakened the next morning by a hand on his shoul- 
der. The camp was being broken down, and would he like to as- 
sist? He knuckled his eyes and went out into the pre-dawn air 
that was already losing the night’s sharp coolness. In less than an 

57 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



hour, the tents had been levelled and packed away. Nothing re- 
mained but the sand huts, which would soon erode away com- 
pletely. 

Durk found him soon after they had finished packing. "Come 
with me. You’re going to be working on the way to Masque.” Ken 
followed the older man to what had been the edge of the camp, 
where a small herd of goats, horses, and a very few cows milled 
about. "Rytha!” Durk called. Most of the herders were small chil- 
dren; the only adult, a woman, waved to Durk and walked to- 
wards them, through the herd. 

"She’s married to Clark. You saw him back at Ian’s tent,” Durk 
said. Ken nodded. He didn’t find Rytha attractive enough to war- 
rant what Durk had obviously meant for a warning. Her face was 
pretty enough, but she was thin and tough-looking, as if the flesh 
had been pared from her bones. And Ken’s solitary wanderings 
had taught him nothing if not self-control and abstention. Though 
Bethel ... 

"Hellay, Durk,” said Rytha, as she reached them. "A new one?” 

Durk said, "His name’s Ken. Ian wants him to work with you 
for a while.” 

"Good enough.” When she held out her hand, Ken shook it. Her 
palm was rough and dry. "Ever herded before?” she asked. 

"I know how.” 

"Everyone knows how,” said Rytha. "Have you ever herded be- 
fore?” 

"No.” 

"Then you’ve probably a lot to learn, whatever you say. Come.” 
She turned on her heel. Ken followed stiffly, ignoring Durk’s grin. 

With no road to follow, Ian’s band moved as a mob, spread out 
across a front many meters wide. The herd lagged behind. Before 
the last hours of daylight were gone, Rytha had asked Ken twice 
again if he had ever herded before — but each time, to Ken’s satis- 
faction, a little more disbelieving of his negative answers. "Fm 
not sure I like you,” she said to him at day’s end, "but you’re no 
idle braggart.” 

"Does the dog go after the sheep often?” asked Ken, to remind 
her of an incident earlier in the day. 

"Often enough. She’s wild. But Shar attacks bandits as well, 
and most think it’s an even trade. You separated her and the 
lamb skillfully — as well as I could have done.” She smiled at him 
quickly. 

Three days later, in the late afternoon, they reached an oasis. 
58 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



In its center was an ancient pumping-station. Its concrete walls 
had weathered over the centuries. Any identifying marks or signs 
had long since been obliterated. The sands were dyed red where 
pipelines had once lain, and Ken saw a glint of metal at the base 
of a dune where some artifact had gone uncorroded. Cool green 
plants huddled around the pump-station as if for solace. From 
within still came the basso humming of pumps in working order. 

Ian Ildrid waved and shouted orders. The movements of the in- 
dividual members of the band seemed almost to have been choreo- 
graphed as the animals were again herded into a manageable 
configuration, food was unpacked, and lines of children with skin 
bags formed before the rusted pump-house door. 

Ziff, Rytha’s husband Clark, and a third man shovelled at the 
sand that had blown against the doorway. As they were finishing 
the job, Durk joined them. He helped clear the last of the sand 
away, then did something to the metal plate set in the wall next 
to the door. The door shuddered and made a grinding noise. Ziff 
put his shoulder to it. Slowly, then more quickly, the door slid 
open. The children followed Durk inside, then began filing out a 
moment later, their skin bags filled almost to bursting. 

Ken flexed his shoulders. The camp was a marvel of organiza- 
tion. Ian Ildrid had said they would reach Masque in five days. At 
first, Ken had doubted so large a group, with so many possessions, 
could make the journey so quickly. But burdens were intelligently 
distributed; the route they were taking had thus far provided no 
obstacles; most importantly, they had arrived at the station on 
schedule — just as the last of the water was gone. He saw Bethel 
coming across the sands to him, and smiled a greeting. They had 
not had much chance to speak during the march. 

"How are you holding up?” she asked. 

"Fve got a heavier pack than Fm used to,” said Ken, "but I 
won’t have any problems. Is all this baggage — like the ovens — 
really necessary? That’s what they’ve got me carrying.” The three 
metal and ceramic fire-boxes were the heaviest single items the 
camp owned. 

"Father says, 'the good will have good things.’ ” 

" 'The upright shall have good things in possession,’ ” quoted 
Ken. 

"Yes, that’s how he put it.” 

"Fve heard the phrase before,” said Ken. 

"And if we can ever find a place to settle, we’ll want those things,” 
Bethel said. 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


59 



"Do you think you ever will?” Ken asked. 

"I think so. Maybe so.” Her eyes were bright. Then she shook 
her head, and looked past Ken’s shoulder. "I think my father 
wants you.” 

Ildrid walked quickly toward the pump-house, and gestured for 
Ken to follow him. Ken shrugged, nodded to Bethel, and ran to 
her father. "What’s the problem?” asked Ken. 

"I don’t know,” Ian said. Children scattered before him as he 
ducked inside the pump-house door. Ken waited outside until he 
and Durk emerged. Ian turned to the finder. "What’s this I hear 
about wanting to go to Gisell instead of Masque?” demanded Ian. 

Ken’s eyes narrowed. 

Durk, face impassive, answered smoothly, "I had wanted to dis- 
cuss that with you, yes.” 

"Why?” asked Ian. "We’ve been planning to go to Masque for 
months. You suggested it yourself. We won’t be able to find work 
in Gisell.” 

"I think we can,” said Durk, "though perhaps not as much as in 
Masque; Gisell is smaller, of course.” 

"Then why?” repeated Ian. 

"Because only two days beyond Gisell is the largest city of 
all — the biggest in the world. A shattered city ten times larger 
than any other. If we go there, we can stay. There will be food 
enough in the cellars to last us, and our children, a hundred times 
over. And more and better machines than you’ll find rotting in 
any desert.” 

"What about the Giselle?” 

"What about them?” asked Durk. "They don’t care about the 
machines. They’re like everyone else, afraid of the cities, afraid of 
any machines they cannot easily understand.” 

Ian nodded, half to himself, then asked, "Why didn’t you tell 
anyone about this before?” 

"I — ” Durk began. 

"Because he’s lying,” said Ken. "There’s no city that close. Durk 
knows, and you should know, Ian, that most of the cities are so 
rotted they’re nothing but husks. There is no old city closer than 
a month’s march from here.” Ken glared at Durk. The man knew, 
or suspected, that Ken was a finder; having decided there could 
not be two in the camp, he was trying to eliminate Ken’s useful- 
ness. There would be no medicines in Gisell. Ian might need a 
medician, but if Ken remained a herder he would be expendable. 

"I’m the finder,” Durk said to him. "I know, not you.” 

60 BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



"And I know you’re lying,” said Ken. 

Durk got a dangerous look on his face. "Don’t call me a liar.” 

"Both you be quiet,” ordered Ian. He was silent for a moment. 
He looked skyward, eyes unfocussed, then looked at both men. 
"We will,” he said, "go to Gisell.” 

It was harder to walk. His pack felt much heavier, and he cursed 
himself inwardly for having allowed himself to become depen- 
dent on Ildrid and his people. Durk had maneuvered Ildrid skill- 
fully: when the band reached Gisell, and found no work, Ildrid 
would have to economize. Ken would be the first to go. What 
Durk intended to do once they left Gisell and found no city, Ken 
did not know. Perhaps Durk considered him such a danger to his 
unique status in the camp that he would be willing to confront 
Ildrid’s anger with him, in exchange for having eliminated Ken as 
a threat. 

Lifetimes of persecution and flight must have unhinged Durk, 
Ken thought. Surely the camp could use two finders, and there 
was no danger to either of them. But was that true? Ken could 
never bring himself to trust a ... a normal human completely. 
They took drastic actions for little or no discernible reason. Logi- 
cally, two finders, with their combined memories, would be an as- 
set. But was there some law or taboo against having two finders 
in the camp? If so, Ken would be playing into Durk’s hands by 
admitting he was a finder. No, he would bide his time, at least for 
a while, and see what developed. 

But he felt trapped. He was trapped. He had no supplies of his 
own now, and even if he stole enough to get him to Masque — still 
the closest town — he knew Ian’s men would not be far behind 
him. They would catch him, and even if they decided he was not 
worth the effort, Ken would have nothing to do when he reached 
Masque. In Turat he had been a prosperous merchant, but it had 
taken him ten years of dealings both legal and illicit to reach that 
position. In a small town such as Masque, there would be no such 
opportunity. He would not be able to stay there long — which 
meant he must stay here. Here (until Durk convinced Ian other- 
wise) he would be provided for. 

Ken looked up, and Durk smiled at him. 

The man was walking next to Ken, smiling at him. Ken called 
him a foul name. The smile vanished. 

"I’m their finder,” said Durk. "Not you.” 

"Go to hell.” 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


61 



"I know you’re a rememberer, too,” said Durk. 

"You’re crazy.” 

"When Ian has time to think about it, he’ll get rid of you. You 
won’t be any use to the camp, now.” 

"Go to hell!” shouted Ken. And hit him. 

Durk sat down hard on the sand, holding his mouth. As if they 
had been waiting for the moment, so quick were their reactions, 
three men grabbed Ken with rough hands. Ian Ildrid helped Durk 
to his feet, then laid a restraining hand on his shoulder as the 
finder started forward. 

"He’s trying to sabotage you,” said Ken defensively. "He wants 
me out, and he’ll mislead you to do it.” 

"He’s our finder,” said Ian quietly, looking at Ken. 

"Dammit,” Ken said. 

"He is our finder,” said Ian again, a bit louder, a good deal 
more emphatically. 

Ken subsided. There was a taste of ashes in his mouth, and his 
knuckles hurt. He turned, suddenly, to the end of the column of 
people and livestock. "What was that?” 

"It’s a trick,” said Durk immediately. 

Someone screamed. 

Ken saw nothing at first. With the others, he ran back along 
the line, pushing aside clumsy sheep and slow-moving humans. 
He could see someone flailing on the sand, surrounded and almost 
hidden by the herd. He pushed through, pushed through, and 
suddenly he could see Rytha twisting, agonized, under Shar, the 
dog. Tripping, half-falling, in his haste, Ken reached them and 
then, as if in a stop-action film, without continuity, he pulled the 
dog from the woman, kicked it (his leg went numb to the hip) and 
it dropped to the sands nearly two meters away, stilled. Later, he 
would not know what he had done. 

Rytha was conscious; pain pulled at her features. She was 
whimpering, eyes half-closed. A calf muscle was torn in several 
places, and bone shone through the ragged, bloody tissue of her 
right leg. 

"He surprised me,” she gasped. "He never . . .” 

"Be quiet,” he said. "Lie still.” Ken’s hands hovered uncertainly 
over the wound. Suddenly someone pushed him from behind and he 
sprawled in the sand. 

"Rytha! Rytha!” It was Clark, and Ken cursed. 

"Keep him away!” ordered Ian, hauling the man away. "Ken, 
you said you were a medician.” 

62 BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



Ken nodded, brushing sand from his mouth. 

"We have bandages, some herbs. You’ll fix her up.” It was a 
statement. 

The bandages were clean, but the medicines were useless. There 
was a large amount of some kind of pain-killer (or so the hand- 
printed label read) but he was unfamiliar with both the formula 
and dosage. There were a few herbal concoctions that cured too 
many things too quickly to be genuine. Ken set these aside. He 
persuaded Ian to destroy a centuries-old medical kit that had been 
allowed to decay until its contents were worthless or dangerous. 
In the end, all Ken could do was wash the wounds with fresh 
water and wrap them. Ian supplied a litter and the procession 
continued. 

It was just two days later that Rytha exhibited the first symp- 
toms of ascending tetanus. 

"She may die,” Ken told Ian. He looked at Durk. "If Masque has 
the medicines we need, we should go there.” 

"She’s hurt, yes,” said Durk, "but she’ll heal. You have your 
own reasons for going to Masque.” 

"And you have yours for preventing me from reaching it. With- 
out medicines I’m a herder and excess baggage; with them, I can 
save Rytha.” Ken turned to Ian Ildrid. "You know something 
about infections and sickliness. What Rytha has is very serious. 
You can see that her muscles are growing rigid. The disease will 
reach the muscle that make her breathe, and then she’ll die. It 
may be too late. The disease is worse, the shorter the time be- 
tween infection — when she was bitten — and when she exhibits the 
first signs of the disease. It happened very quickly to her, but I 
think perhaps she can still be saved.” 

" 'Perhaps’!” Durk forced a laugh. "You’re a transparent liar, 
Ken Irish.” 

"Can you help her?” he demanded. 

"You can’t!” shouted Durk. "You’re a liar!” 

Ken hit him. Durk fell, as if it were a replay of their first fight, 
but this time when Durk stumbled to his feet he had a 
short-bladed knife in his hand — and there was no ons to hold 
either of them back. 

Durk was strong, and he had the weapon, but he was old, too. 
More importantly, Ken was fighting for his life. It made a dif- 
ference. 

Durk’s first slash tested Ken. He sidestepped and evaded it eas- 
BACKTOBYZANTIUM 63 



ily. The second time was closer, but the blade still did not touch 
him. The third: Durk feinted, preparatory to another cut and Ken 
(quickly, so quickly) lunged directly at the knife and groped past 
it. He locked hands of iron on Durk’s wrist and elbow and put his 
weight on them. As Durk fell, the knife tore a thin red line across 
Ken’s forearm. Ken let Durk go. The man fell on his blade. 

Ian stepped forward then. 

"You killed our finder,” he said, not unreasonably, not at all dan- 
gerously. 

Ken turned away as blood formed a spreading pool beneath 
Durk’s body. The thirsty sand sucked his life down. 

It had not gone as he had expected, none of it. 

"You act like a finder,” Ian said. Ken looked at him. "You 
speak like a finder.” 

"Does Bethel . . . ?” 

"She does not know. It would not matter to her, if she did. She 
knows that memories are to be kept and preserved, whatever 
their form.” 

Ken looked down. "Like him?” 

"No, not like him. He was no good to us, or anyone. He was our 
heritage, the embodiment of the past, but he didn’t appreciate 
that.” 

"You knew there was no city beyond Gisell,” said Ken. "You 
knew I’d have to fight him.” 

Ian shook his head. "That is exactly what I did not know. He 
may have joined with you, and then we would have had two find- 
ers. One or the other of you might have left. But whatever hap- 
pened, it had to be resolved between the two of you alone, with no 
interference from me. If I had enforced some sort of agreement be- 
tween you, when there could be none, the camp would have lost 
both of you. Now we can go to Masque and get the medicines for 
Rytha. I know they’ll have them; I’ve been there before.” 

"Masque is built over an old medical complex,” said Ken ab- 
sently. "It’s not totally in ruins.” 

Ian nodded. "We had better move, then. We’ll have time . . . ?” 

"If we’re lucky, I think so. Some of us will have to go on ahead 
with Rytha.” 

There was a sound from behind them, a soft footfall. Bethel 
gasped, standing there, highlighted and so beautiful in the moon’s 
light. Her features were frozen by shock. 

"Bethel,” Ken said, not knowing what would come after. 

"You’re hurt!” she cried, seeing the blood on his arm. She ran to 

64 BACK TO BYZANTIUM 



him. 

Ian Ildrid smiled. 

Ken left the hut where Rytha lay, and Clark sat. He thought 
Clark needed more help than his wife now. Bethel and Ian met 
him at the entrance to the hut. "She’ll be all right,” said Ken, be- 
fore they could ask. He was weary. Six of them had fast-marched 
ahead of the rest of Ildrid’s band. Two days ago they had reached 
Masque, Ian had bartered for the medicines on his own good word, 
and Ken could not remember having slept since. He pressed a 
hand to his forehead. "You’ll need a new finder,” Ken said simply. 
He glanced at Bethel. He did not know' if she, too, had deduced he 
was a rememberer, or if Ian had simply told her. 

"We will be glad to have you,” said Ian. 

"I’d like to speak to you for a moment,” Ken said to him. 

Bethel nodded. "After that, get some sleep, and then look for me 
when you’ve rested.” She left them. 

"You know how I feel about her,” Ken said. 

"Yes.” 

"And you don’t object?” said Ken. "Chances are that any male 
children we may have will be rememberers; that’s how it’s passed 
on.” 

"The finders are our link to the past,” said Ian. "With them, we 
can rebuild the old times, relearn the old knowledge, and avoid 
the mistakes our ancestors made, that led to the great wars.” 

"Other people have thought that,” said Ken. 

Ian shrugged, and said, "The entire band feels this way. Those 
that cannot understand are made to feel unwelcome, and they 
leave. We must find more people who can understand — and more 
rememberers, as well.” 

"I’ve met a few,” said Ken. "Three, over the last five life- 
times — and Durk. We don’t usually stay together very long. It 
increases the cuances of discovery.” 

"You don’t have to worry about that here,” said Ian. 

Ken nodded. "I remember,” he said, "when times were differ- 
ent.” 

Ian put a hand on his shoulder. "We can go back to those times. 
We can bring them here, to us. But first, go get some sleep.” 

Ken Irish dreamed of towers rising like a phoenix into the light 
of a new day. 


BACK TO BYZANTIUM 


65 



UP-TOP SUMMER 

by Leah Pahner 

art: Jack Gaughan 



Leah Palmer reports being old enough 
to truly appreciate Erma Bombeck 
and young enough-in appearance- 
to lie about her age. Among other jobs, 
she’s been a business manager, 
professional dancer, waitress, parent, 
college teacher, and-currently- 
she works with migrant farmworkers 
whose objective is to enter post-secondary 
education. She is working on two books, 
one science fiction, the other a text. 
"Up-Top Summer” is her first fiction sale. 


66 


It all started when that therapist-counselor fella got next to the 
mayor and the city council. Till then, Up-Top was a nice little 
place where our politicos worked on the town business a couple-a 
mornings a week arid spent the summer afternoons at the 
drugstore fountain. There’s where the business really got done 
anyway. But I’m getting too far ahead of yesterday when it all got 
kinda complicated. 

The day this guy first came into the drugstore, it was pretty 
hot, so the stools at the fountain were full. He leans on the end of 
the countertop and says, "Mornin’, folks!” and smiles real nice. 
Jake Huebner, who sits on the middle stool, leans in and says, 
"Howareya?” Turns out this guy’s name is Harrison — Rip Harri- 
son. Don’t know what "Rip” was short for — sumpin or other — he 
told us once but I forget. Anyhow, he said he’d been looking the 
town over and was thinking of moving in and staying. Some of 
the fellas at the fountain looked at him kinda sharp-like, but he 
was a friendly-lookin’ sort — not at all like those bearded types that 
stop through now and then. So everybody settles back into their 
coffee and donuts (Margie makes real good coffee and homemade 
donuts) and let Harrison talk. That was the first mistake. 

The upshot was that this Harrison guy moved into Larsen’s old 
place. Mrs. Larsen even came in from the ranch and put up some 
new curtains she’d made special. Seemed to me the old ones 
looked okay, but like I said to Jake, this guy made people want to 
"do” for him. It was real strange how he had that effect on us. 

The next time I saw Harrison was down at the park on Sunday. 
He was standing on the steps of the gazebo, conversing earnest- 
like with three or four of the couples from down by Chester 
Street. That’s where most of the youngbecoupled with babies live. 
One or two had tots bangin’ on their legs or slung onto a hip. 
Cute lil’ tykes, and real well-behaved — all of our town kids are 
like that — not a sniveler or whiner in the lot. Anyways, he was 
talkin’ to ’em and I could hear stuff like "authentic interaction” 
and "familial solidarity.” At least, that’s what it sounded like. The 
wife said she thought he was real handsome and that he’d talked 
real nice to her over the vegetables at the grocery store. Later on, 
I saw that he’d been asked in to Zeph Thomas’s group for picnic 
supper. Zeph’s our First Councilman. It looked to me like this 
Harrison ate a bushel of food and never stopped talkin’ all the 
time he was a-wolfln’ it down. It was an amazin’ sight. I don’t 
know why I kept watchin’ him — I just did. And I sure don’t re- 

67 


UP TOP SUMMER 



member feeling suspicious or anything like that. 

Looking back, hardly anyone remembers any worry-feelings 
connected witb Harrison. Some of us wondered for awhile how a 
counselor-therapist could do any good for himself in a town like 
ours. Things don’t move along fast or change much here. Oh, from 
time to time some of the young folks squabble. But it never gets 
too excitin’. We’re quite a ways out and just have to get along. 

A week or so later, I dropped by the Tuesday council meeting 
and there sits Harrison, watching the mayor and the council do 
the town business. There was nothing much that morning — a 
fence-section was down over by Olson’s Creek. The water’s kind of 
hot and dangerous there. It wouldn’t do to have the cattle step in 
and burn their legs, so we keep the fence pretty stout. Also, see- 
ing as how we get some stiff winds about once a month come 
summer, nobody is surprised to hear about a couple-a trees block- 
ing the main cart-road. There was some reported but all that calls 
for is a committee to go move ’em, so that was nothing new. But 
this Harrison fella is leanin’ forward in his chair like they was all 
decidin’ the fate of the universe. And, by dang, that was the first 
time I’d seen him when he wasn’t talkin’! So I volunteers for the 
tree committee, which kept me and the others busy for the rest of 
the week. 

Saturday next, after I got my lawn cut, I wandered on downtown, 
said "Hello!” at the hardware store and the feed store and came 
into the drugstore about noon. Thought because the day was turn- 
in’ out to be a real scorcher. I’d get me a sandwich and some 
lemonade (Margie makes real good sandwiches and lemonade!). I 
sat myself on my regular stool. Musta been earlier than I 
reckoned ’cause nobody was there yet. Margie made me a real 
nice, thick meat sandwich with lots of salad. I was sucking up the 
last of my lemonade when Zeph and the mayor, Henry Swallow, 
came in. We talked about the tree-clearing and how it went, 
asked after one another’s families, and then Jake came in. He 
punches me on the shoulder — not hard, just in the friendly way he 
has — and says, "What do ya think of Harrison’s proposal, fella?” 

"What proposal?” I says. 

"Where you been?” he says. 

"Out clearin’ trees,” I says. 

Well, it seems that this Harrison had been talkin’ (he was al- 
ways talkin’!) to the mayor and Zeph and the rest of the council 


68 


UP TOP SUMMER 



about improving their "communication skills.” The idea was that 
the town business and the "citizen interaction” could be carried on 
so’s nobody would waste any time because "time was money,” ac- 
cordin’ to Harrison. He said that everything in town was too 
casual and slow and he could help us speed things up some by 
working on our way of thinkin’ and behavin’. He’d offered to do a 
Seminar for all the folks to show how we could do it. Well, we are 
always lookin’ to be better. Who isn’t? So the council had said 
they’d entertain the idea and bring it up at the town meeting 
which was that night. 

Town meetings are real nice. We get to see everybody 'cause 
even the Far-Away Outlanders come in for it. After the meet- 
ing, we have a big party with dancing and singing and lots of 
food. You know the kind I mean — real folksy. Like I said, we all 
know each other real well ’cause we’re way out here by ourselves. 

The town meeting got underway late, as usual, which was all 
right with us. Gives us a chance to visit and catch up on news 
from the Outland folks. I noticed that the Harrison fella was look- 
ing pretty tense. I figured he was thinkin’ about his proposal. 
Later on, though, Jake told me it was because the meeting didn’t 
start on time. That was kinda strange, especially since everyone 
was laughing and talking and having a good time. Well, we got 
the regular business done — announcements of new babies and be- 
couplings, deaths from accidents (not too many since we got the 
uncertain kinds of dangers pegged quite awhile back), and pro- 
duction reports from all the Outlands. Things looked pretty good 
and everybody was rarin’ to go to the party, but Henry said, "Just 
a dang minute!” so everybody quietened down while he introduced 
Rip Harrison. Henry told how the guy had been in town awhile 
and had his license as a counselor-therapist and how he had some 
ideas on how we could do things better if we had these-here "im- 
proved communication skills.” Now, all the folks respect Henry, 
and if he says, "Listen,” they’ll listen. So we heard Harrison’s 
proposal and figured it would be all right to spend a weekend on 
his Seminar. What the heck — it was free. And besides, I could cut 
my lawn Friday late. It sounded fine to me and to all the rest, too. 
That was our second mistake. 

So we voted for it and broke off for the party. Harrison was ev- 
erywhere at once, sweatin’ and grinnin’ and shakin’ hands like 
he’d just been elected to be king or sumpin’. (By the way, it was a 
fine party. I danced with Margie and twirled her till she giggled 

69 


UP TOP SUMMER 



and her boyfriend started to get jealous. She dances as good as 
she cooks!) 

It was all arranged to have the Seminar the next weekend. The 
Outlanders would still be in town, stocking for the cold months. It 
took them about two weeks to load everything, so the timing 
couldn’t have been better. The teenbetweens could get organized 
and take care of all the babies and youngbetweens for two days. It 
seemed kinda peculiar to hear that we couldn’t go home at night, 
but I calculated that Harrison knew what he was doing since he 
had a license and all. 

We decided that the best place to hold the Seminar was out of 
town in Youngman’s Grove. We was all lookin’ forward to it as 
sort of a weekend picnic. I recollect thinkin’ it was a bit odd when 
Harrison said we didn’t need to bring much food and only a pillow 
and blanket for bedding. But I figured he was making all the ar- 
rangements, so I didn’t worry about it. 

The next weekend came along soon enough. Saturday morning, 
we all arrived more or less on time and sat around in the amphi- 
theater. Harrison had that tense look again and was rushin’ 
around, fidgety-like, moving people so they were sitting real close 
and in rows as straight as he could get ’em. Some complained of 
being too close to breathe but he said, "No — sitting that way is 
part of the Seminar.” So we went along with him. Finally, he got 
up on the platform and said we were going to start and he was 
going to give us the Rules of the Seminar. He said that he was 
the only one who had the right to talk unless he said somebody 
could ( I told the wife that that sure figured!), that nobody could 
move their seats unless he gave them permission, and that they 
couldn’t leave until he said the Seminar was over. He asked if ev- 
erybody understood. We allowed as how we did, so he said in a 
real loud voice that the Rules were "now in force” and that he was 
the boss from then on. 

Well, I swan!! The first thing to come out of his mouth was a 
mile-long string of cuss-words fit to kill a mule. They was so 
strong that the ladies was coverin’ their ears and some of the men 
was turnin’ red. The mayor raised his hand and said, "Hold on 
there, Harrison!” and Harrison told him to shut up 'cause he 
hadn’t said he could talk and then went right back to cussin’. 
Boy-howdy! He must’ve cussed a lot in his time 'cause he went on 
for five more minutes without repeating a word. I had to kind of 


70 


UP TOP SUMMER 



admire it, in a way. Though we’ve got to the point where about 
the most we say is "Gol-dang-it” or "I’ll be switched,” I’d have to 
admit if we were the cussin’ kind, he’d be the champ of the whole 
planet. 

When he stopped cussin’, Harrison looked sort of flushed and 
winded and he just stood there staring at us, breathing sort of 
heavy-like. Well, none of the ladies had fainted or anything, but I 
could hear a few of the men grumbling and muttering some. Har- 
rison told them to shut up and stood there with his arms folded 
till they all shut up. Then he started shoutin’ about the Rules and 
went up and down the rows repeatin’ the Rules and asking us to 
repeat them back till he was satisfied that probably everybody 
could say ’em. He said we’d better pay attention or we’d still be 
sitting there come next summer. After that, he started to tell us 
how worthless we all were and went around sticking his face 
right up into other folks faces, insulting them about the way they 
dressed and talked and acted. He told poor Mrs. Larsen that she 
probably did perverted sex-acts with the town youngbetweens. 
She passed out cold and he made everybody just leave her there 
on the ground. After awhile, she came around and got back up on 
her chair and sat there white as a sheet and a little glassy-eyed. 

This kind of thing went on for about three hours. Actually, we 
was sort of gettin’ used to it when one of the men stood up and 
headed for the restroom. It was Jake, and we all know his kid- 
ney’s ain’t too good anyway. I was surprised he could be polite for 
that long. Well, would you believe? Harrison told him to go back 
and sit down because he hadn’t been told he could go anywhere 
and that he was just making it hard on the rest of us. Jake looked 
at him startled-like and went and sat down. 

By then, it’s starting to get hot out there. The sun was right 
overhead and the trees didn’t hang over the middle of the am- 
phitheater, just around the edges. Harrison wouldn’t let anybody 
get a drink or even eat lunch after what Jake done. That’s when a 
lot of the ladies and some of the men started to pass out. I was up 
by the edge and shaded some, and the missus was doing all right 
so far, but we were pretty hungry and thirsty and we sure did 
have to — well, you know. Speaking of that, there were a lot of 
people who couldn’t wait, I guess, because in that blazin’ sun 
there was a lot of odors driftin’ around, if you know what I mean. 
Anyhow, he kept us there all day like that. 

Sundown was some relief, excepting the fly situation had got to 
be pretty serious, and the gnats and biters came out. Harrison let 

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UP TOP SUMMER 



some of us light the night-torches but it didn’t help much. By 
now, we were all dog-tired and wondering what we had done to 
ourselves. After all, what kinds of fools would sit there all day 
with that guy spouting insults and cuss-words and upsetting ev- 
eryone while they embarrassed themselves and fried in the sun? 

Out of the corner of my eye, I seen Zeph slip into the shadows 
of the trees, slide around toward the cart-road, and hot-foot it for 
town. I had an idea what he was goin’ after. I just hoped nobody 
had locked up the back door of the hardware store — the Under- 
Town Carrier-Portal is in there. No need to lock up. Nobody 
hereabouts steals. We’ve almost forgot why anybody would want 
to, anyways. And the only stranger in town was Harrison. Hardly 
seems likely anybody told him. We only get visitors in the sum- 
mer when we’re living in Up-Top and, winters, when we live in 
Under-Town, everything’s too hard-froze for travelin’. 

About an hour later, I was admirin’ the fact that Harrison was 
still goin’ strong when I seen Zeph coming up behind him, quiet- 
like, carrying one of the trank-guns from Under-Town. Guess 
everyone agreed with what he was up to because nobody moved or 
batted an eyelash or hollered "Look out, Harrison!” Even though 
it was a shame to have to dip into the technology in Summersea- 
son. Deity knows, this was an emergency! 

After Zeph dropped him, there was quite a rush for the dark 
parts of the grove and the drinking fountains. We all knew that 
Harrison would rest easy till we relieved ourselves, cleaned up, 
and had a drink and a snack. After that, some of the fellas bun- 
dled Harrison into a blanket and hauled him into town. They all 
rode the Carrier to Under-Town, stuck Harrison into a stasis-suit 
and a floater-box, addressed it, and sent him off with the Outland- 
ers to the spaceport pickup. The spacers will grab him in a year 
or so, and when he wakes up maybe he can hold a Seminar for 
the three-legged aborigines on the Pleiades Frontier. Maybe he’ll 
have better luck with them. (Margie says she hopes the food is 
good out there. Ain’t that just like Margie?) 

He was a nice young fella, that Harrison, and he meant well. 
I’m sure. But even if he did have a counselor-therapist license, he 
talked too gol-danged much!! 


72 


UP TOP SUMMER 



ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 

by George O. Smith 


We’ve all heard of the Three Laws of Planetary Motion, de- 
veloped by Johannes Kepler. They’ve been repeated so often that 
we recite them by rote, and seldom pause to consider how they 
were developed and what they really mean. This time we’ll start, 
as usual, by rote, but then we’ll take them one by one and 
examine them in detail. But before we begin, I want to straighten 
out a popular misconception of how Johannes Kepler got into as- 
tronomy. 

In the popular reading, one can come to the notion that Johan- 
nes Kepler attended the school and observatory, Uraniborg, built 
on the Island of Hveen by Tycho Brahe, who had been granted 
that island "for life” with a generous pension by King Frederick 
of Denmark. And that Kepler’s performance impressed the old 
master, who made him an assistant. AND that when Tycho Brahe 
died, the 21 years of carefully tabulated data of altitudes and 
azimuth of the celestial bodies came to Johannes Kepler by in- 
heritance. 

Part of the story is true; what is missing is the parts left out by 
writers covering this beginning of the scientific revolution who 
were anxious to get to the scientific parts and didn’t go into some 
of the finer details. 

Specifically, Tycho Brahe did spend 21 years at Uraniborg on 
the Island of Hveen, where he and his students used great quad- 
rants to measure the positions of the visible bodies, and almost a 
thousand stars. But in 1588, King Frederick died, and the new 
king, Christian IV, didn’t take to Tycho Brahe’s high-handed at- 
titudes, nor his rather short, sharp tongue when one of the dig- 
nitaries asked a question that wasn’t quite brilliant. He revoked 
the "for life” grant of Hveen, and cut off Brahe’s pension, and 
Brahe left Hveen without ever hearing of Johannes Kepler. 

Kepler, on the other hand, and in the same year, 1588, won 
summary honors by a brilliant examination for his bachelor’s 
degree — not in the sciences, my friends, but as a divinity stu- 
dent. Kepler was aiming to become a minister, and he didn’t give 
a howling hoot about astronomy. His honors won him what we 
call a scholarship today, at the University of Tubingen, where he 
went to obtain his final degrees. 


73 




Someone said that some men are born to greatness, some men 
acquire greatness by hard work, and others have greatness thrust 
upon them. Kepler is in the third batch. He entered astronomy by 
the back door. 

At Tubingen, Kepler studied the works of Nicolas Copernicus, 
undoubtedly on the grounds that the ministry thought that if 
Copernicus was right, it would be wise for the ministry to be well 
informed about the heliocentric system, and if Copernicus was 
wrong, it would be wise to know the devil before taking up arms 
against him. We can also guess that Kepler gave study to as- 
tronomy, which was mostly astrology at the time because the 
learned men were, at least, half-believers. That is, while religion 
was against astrology on the ground that God rules the lives of 
men, not the planets, it was quite possible that God had put these 
things in the skies for some reason; so that possibly astrology 
might work if the input data were accurate. 

So we know that Kepler studied the works of Copernicus, and 
that he probably studied astronomy-astrology, so he was not only 
of a brilliant mind, but well informed and inclined toward the 
mysterious. The result is that when the chair of astronomy 
opened at the University of Gretz, it was offered to him. Having 
come from a poor family, Kepler accepted the professorship, giv- 
ing up (he hoped temporarily) his aspirations toward the ministry. 

At Gretz, Kepler found himself up to here supervising students 
as he taught them how to cast horoscopes for the nobility who 
supported the universities, and for the wealthy who lived their 
lives by their horoscopes. So Kepler went at astrology the way he 
went at winning scholastic honors as a divinity student, because 
if the signs of the zodiac were clearly defined, modern information 
regarding the movement of the planets might well disclose a cor- 
respondence between the positions of the celestial objects and the 
events in the lives of men. 

Meanwhile, Tycho Brahe, after spending a year in observation 
at the Castle Wandsbeck, near Hamburg, attracted the attention 
of Rudolph II, King of Hungary, Bohemia, and Germany, who in 
1590 gave him residence at Castle Benatky, near Prague, where 
Tycho had his great quadrants sent from Hveen, along with the 
mass of recorded data, to continue his observations. 

Kepler continued at Gretz. In 1595, he believed that he had dis- 
covered some relationship between the five regular geometric sol- 
ids and the distances between the planets, and in 1596 this belief 
was published in a scientific magazine whose readers included 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


74 



Galileo Galilei and Tycho Brahe. This started a long and close 
correspondence among the three men. And it was the article 
about the five solids plus the correspondence that impressed 
Tycho Brahe with Johannes Kepler’s brilliance. 

Then in 1599 there came the usual flip-flap between religion 
and the sciences. That led to some royal decrees, one of which 
convinced Kepler that he had better vacate the premises. But the 
University of Tubingen wouldn’t take Kepler back because he re- 
fused to comply, wholly and completely, with the religious insis- 
tence that one must take what the church said or else. And at the 
same time, Kepler received a letter from Tycho Brahe, offering 
him the position of assistant at Castle Benatky. So Kepler Jiecame 
Tycho Brahe’s assistant, not his student, and with the mass of 
raw celestial data tried scientifically to see if there were some re- 
lationship between the stars and the men. 

Then Tycho Brahe died after a short illness in 1601, and as 
Tycho’s assistant, Kepler "inherited” the tabulations. 

Well, then, we have Johannes Kepler using the massive data 
collected over 21 years of careful observing by Tycho Brahe. And 
here we must pause to examine how Kepler went at it. 

In about 600 bc, Thales of Miletus demonstrated how the dis- 
tance of a ship offshore could be measured by triangulation; that 
is, measuring the angles of the distant object as seen from the 
ends of a known baseline. The problem in space is to find the 
known baseline, especially when everything is in motion. For the 
angles were in the tabulations. 

The second item is the fact that the lengths of the years of the 
visible planets had been known since antiquity. 

The third is that Kepler picked Mars, which was hardly a 
"pick,” for Mars is unquestionably the best object for the process. 
It has the highest eccentricity of the visible planets except Mer- 
cury, and Mercury is too close to the Sun to make continuous 
viewing possible. Second, Mars is "outside” of the Earth’s orbit, so 
it is visible most of its own year. Had it been Venus, Kepler’s First 
Law might not have been discovered for decades, since the orbit of 
Venus is almost a perfect circle. 

The major item was to find a suitable baseline, and a bit of 
simple geometry added to known facts about the periods of the 
planets. Mars in this case, provide the information to obtain one. 
It starts like this; Picking a date, say 1 January, within the limits 
of visual observation, the Earth will return to that place in space 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 75 



every 1 January. But the year of Mars is 1.88 Terrestrial Years; 
the reciprocal of this is 0.532 — that is, the Terrestrial Year is 
0.532 Martian Years. So if we observe Mars every 1 January, we 
will be observing the planet along its orbit a little more than 
one-half way around from the last observation. Next, pick 2 
January and plot the position of Mars along its orbit, and then 3 
January, and on throughout the Terrestrial Year. One will find 
that it is hardly necessary to connect the points unless the draw- 
ing paper is somewhere between vast and tremendous. Normally 
in this kind of procedure, the plan comes first and then the data 
are collected according to plan, but in this case, Tycho Brahe col- 
lected the data first and it was Johannes Kepler who created the 
plan. 

Now reverse the process. Mars hasn’t a calendar, yet, but if we 
pick some celestial point, say the Vernal Equinox, and call it 
Mars 1 Day, then each Martian Year, 1.88 Terrestrial Years, 
Mars will be at the Vernal Equinox, while the Earth has moved 
around its orbit by 1.88 times 360 degrees. Next, plot Earth on 
Mars 2 Day, and on around. And one gets a fair plot of both or- 
bits. 

Here I must mention that the idea of triangulating Mars using 
the diameter of the Earth does not work because the distance is 
too great to use the diameter of the Earth as a baseline. One 
could probably do it with modern instruments, using not the 
angle measured on Earth, but using the parallax method against 
the so-called fixed star field. One can triangulate the Moon, but 
Mars? Sorry. 

Now the concept of planetary orbits being composed of perfect 
circles with constant, uniform motion, with the resulting need for 
fudge factors, such as epicycles, came from superstition and reli- 
gion. Kepler, who had studied astrology and half-believed it, and 
studied Copernicus at the highly theological University of 
Tubingen as an advanced scholar in divinity, had both supersti- 
tion and religion to aim his astronomical work into the epicycle 
business. 

But the epicycle did not work, no matter how hard he tried. It 
made a very crude approximation, quite far from the data ac- 
cumulated by Tycho Brahe. Everything that Kepler did made the 
orbit come out an ellipse. In his correspondence about this, Kepler 
used some language hardly becoming a divinity student, but 
added that what he thought about elliptical orbits had nothing to 

76 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



do with their existence, nor would his opinion change the facts. So 
he put down: 

ONE: The orbit of a planet is an ellipse, with the Sun at 
one of the focal points. 

Now, the epicycle process entered astronomy in ancient times, 
to explain retrograde motion; it had nothing to do with the opera- 
tion of a planet along an ellipse, since the ellipticity of the orbit is 
so close to a circle that it took the highly sophisticated measuring 
quadrants of Tycho Brahe to accumulate enough precision data to 
make the ellipticity evident. The epicycle remained after Coper- 
nicus, no longer to explain retrograde movement, but to account 
for the fact that the movement of the planet is not at a constant 
velocity. About all this did was to swap the Earth as center and 
the Sun in revolution, and continue using the epicycles. 

But Kepler, in his analysis, found that despite religion and 
superstition. Mars not only moved in an ellipse rather than a cir- 
cle or combination of circles, but it also moved along the ellipse at 
a far from constant rate. 

This may or may not have disturbed Kepler as the elliptical 
orbit did. He did spend some time trying to figure out just why 
this took place, and to find some sort of mathematical relation to 
explain it. And in trying everything he could think of, for Kepler 
believed that there was something importantly methodical about 
the Solar System and celestial events, he came up with: 

TWO: The radius vector sweeps over equal areas in equal 
times. 

The "radius vector,” for the four or five of you who have never 
met the term before, is a line from the Sun to the planet. And for 
those a bit weak in geometry, the "major axis” of the ellipse is the 
dimension of the length of the football; the "minor axis” is the 
width. They lie at right angles and where they cross is the center, 
or "centroid” since the affix " — oid” means "something like a — .” 
Now, if one takes a compass or dividers set to the dimension from 
the centroid to either end of the major axis, then transfers the 
needle to the point where the ellipse crosses the minor axis, the 
points where the marker crosses the major axis are the focal 
points. 

So Kepler discovered that for a given time, the radius vector 
ON KEPLER. NEWTON, & COMPANY 77 



will sweep over an area enclosed by the Sun, the ellipse, and the 
positions of the radius vector at the start and finish of the given 
time — and at any other place along the orbit, for the same given 
time, the area swept over will be equal to any other. 

At this moment we’ll not try to explain how and why, because 
the bright fellow who explained it wasn’t born until 12 years after 
Kepler’s death; we’ll meet this fellow in the next generation. 

After Law Two was announced, Kepler spent some years with 
his charts and his figures, seeking some correlation between the 
distance of the planet from the Sun, and the length of the planet’s 
year. When he found the relationship, it made less sense than 
Law Two: 

THREE: The cube of the mean distance from the Sun is 
proportional to the square of the planet’s year. 

It works very nicely, and a bit of button-pushing will show how 
nicely. Dropping the endless numbers that are necessary for fine 
precision, and, since this is really a relation between one planet 
and the other, we can save time by using the Astronomical Unit 
(the distance between the Earth and the Sun) as the unit of dis- 
tance, and the Terrestrial Year as the unit of time. 

Using D for distance, Y for year, and the small subscript to 
denote Earth, the cube of the distance, De®, comes out 1x1x1 
= 1, and the square of the year, Y^.^, comes out 1 x 1 = 1; so the 
relationship is De^/Ye^ = 1. 

Using the same units for Mars, and the small subscript to de- 
note the planet, the same ratio should exist; that is, Dm^/Yp,^ = 1. 
But here we must use some long figures because things do not 
come out in nice, even strings of zeroes. In the book, the distance 
of Mars in Astronomical Units is 1.523, which cubed gives 3.537. 
The Martian Year, in Terrestrial terms, is 1.880, which squared 
gives 3.537. And 3.537/3.537 = 1. 

All right, so I cheated, or had to. The figures for planetary dis- 
tances tabulated in the books were calculated using Kepler’s 
Third, from the planetary years which have been known since 
man learned to count. But the figures in the book run into signifi- 
cant figures so long that they come down to a precision that we 
couldn’t possibly have measured until radar bouncing came along. 

But as stated, Kepler’s Third is incomplete. We hereby forgive 
him since he was only working on the Solar System. One can not 
use the Terrestrial terms for distance and time to apply to the 

78 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



satellites of Jupiter, for example, unless one is going to compare 
Callisto with Ganymede — until a parameter is added that in- 
cludes the mass of the system. When this is complete, the as- 
trophysicists can determine the total mass of a binary star com- 
pared to the Solar Mass from the binary’s period and orbital size. 

Johannes Kepler died in 1630, his work well done. 

Isaac Newton was born in 1642, his work yet to start. 

Aristotle had it figured out nicely. All material matter in Aris- 
totle’s Universe was here at the Earth, in the center, and those 
things in the sky were not matter or they’d have fallen along with 
everything else at the time of Creation. 

But now it turned out that Them Things Up There are massive 
planets moving nearly in circles, producing angular momentum, 
which produces centrifugal force. Kepler had the works oiled out 
and the system running sensibly, but who winds the spring? 

A book I’ve received recently said that Sir Isaac Newton discov- 
ered centrifugal force. Me thinks the writer was hurrying. Newton 
didn’t "discover” centrifugal force any more than Gutenberg wrote 
the Bible. Centrifugal force was known in Biblical times; it had 
been crudely analyzed by Goliath when David belted him in the 
skull with a stone launched from a sling. Newton may well have 
put centrifugal force down to cold mathematics that Goliath 
couldn’t take in concrete form, but he didn’t "discover” it. 

Newton was born the same year Galileo died. So in his youth, 
Newton had the works of both Galileo and Kepler to study. 

Now, Galileo is given much publicity over two events in his life. 
He is supposed to have tossed cannon balls from the Leaning 
Tower of Pisa to prove his point about falling bodies; and he is 
credited with un-recanting his recantation by muttering, 
". . . nevertheless, it moves!” 

The second is shrouded. Some claim that he did mutter the 
words after he recanted; The Church, highly powerful in Italy, 
which kept all the historical records, says he did not. 

The first is questionable. Whether he or his assistants dropped 
weights or cannon balls from the Leaning Tower may have been 
done as proof to the objectors who believed in Aristotle, but only 
after Galileo knew that he was right. One thing we know; he used 
a "thought experiment” in his lectures; the process of describing 
an experiment that can’t be done physically but can be figured 
out by logic. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 79 



In this case, Galileo led his listeners up Aristotle’s garden path 
to the point where they were in whole agreement that a twenty- 
pound cannon ball would fall twice as fast as a ten-pound ball. 
Then Galileo asked what would happen if the two balls were 
dropped while tethered together with a length of chain. First, the 
twenty -pound ball would drop twice as fast the the ten-pound ball 
until the length of chain was taut. Then, what would happen? 
Would the ten-pound ball slow the fall of the twenty, or would the 
twenty-pound ball speed up the ten? Or would they fall as a 
thirty-pound mass? And how would the balls know they were tied 
together so they’d know how to fall? 

The main problem in this avenue is facing the two-horned prob- 
lem of 1) finding a place high enough with a full dead drop so 
that several seconds of free fall could be observed, and 2) how to 
mark and time the positions of the mass as it fell. 

Galileo solved the first problem by using an inclined plane. The 
inclined plane is one of the six simple machines of the Ancient 
Greeks; given a plane with the rise of 1 foot over a 10 foot length, 
the mechanical advantage is 10:1, meaning that a 10 pound 
weight would, ignoring friction, require only a 1 pound pull to 
bring it up the plane to the 1 foot rise. Since the simple machines 
are reciprocal, the pull of gravity down the plane is cut 10:1. Put 
in proper terms, a free fall drop of 2 seconds is 64 feet; put on the 
inclined plane, the 2 second "drop” is 6.4 feet. 

The timing and marking problem is not spelled out in history. 
We’ve been told that Galileo and his helpers may have timed the 
fall using their pulses, and I must also point out that this took 
place at the University of Pisa, where Galileo discovered the prin- 
ciple of the pendulum. We’ve been told that he and his helpers 
put marks on the plane at the time signal, although it would have 
been better and more precise to have coated the rolling balls with 
soot or chalk, to make a permanent mark on the plane. 

Just how it was done isn’t that important; what is important is 
that if the ball is given a sidewise roll horizontal to the incline, 
horizontal motion and falling motion are independent of one 
another. Changing the incline did not affect the horizontal mo- 
tion, although it did indeed affect the velocity of the fall. And 
given the two motions, the ball rolled down the plane in a 
parabola. 

So from these experiments there came the equations for freely 
falling bodies: 

80 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



1) V = AT 


2) D = ^AT2 (Or 

which give velocity, V, and distance, D, of a body under the 
influence of an acceleration, A, during the time, T. The two equa- 
tions are related; the second is derived from the first, although 
the reader who has never been through the relationship may not 
understand how come. Mostly the reason is that our experience in 
acceleration occurs in the family car, in which the acceleration 
time is short whereas the running time at constant speed is fairly 
long. 

The acceleration. A, of the falling body is 32 feet per second per 
second, or 980 centimeters per second per second, and this con- 
tinues so long as the body is in fall. In the automobile, at cruising 
speed and with a driver that doesn’t slam on the brakes eight feet be- 
fore the red light, or leave rubber behind at the first flash of the 
green, we’re used to thinking that at 35 miles per hour, it will 
take 1 hour to travel 35 miles, et cetera. But in free fall, the body 
is increasing its speed because of the continuous acceleration of 
gravity, thus: 

1) V = AT. 

And this is what the mathematician calls a "linear” equation; 
meaning that the velocity always increases with time. So we can- 
not simply multiply velocity by time to get distance, since the 
velocity increases as time goes by. So— at 32 feet per second per 
second, the body will be falling at 32 feet per second at tbe end of 
the first second, having started at zero velocity when let go. And 
at the end of the next second, the velocity will have increased by 
another 32 feet per second, and so on. The equation is linear, so 
the velocity to be used to calculate distance is the average of the 
velocity at the start (V = 0.0) and the velocity at the end of the 
drop or time limit. This equals one-half the ending velocity. 

If we put the idea of travelling by automobile into a simple 
equation, at a constant speed, it comes out D = VT. But V itself is 
equal to AT for the end of the fall, and the average must be used, 
so combining them, it comes out D = (AT/2)T which simplifies 
into: 

2) D = ^T2. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 81 



This, by the way, is a form of very simple-minded calculus. We 
can say that acceleration is the derivative of velocity, which is the 
derivative of distance; conversely, distance is the integral of veloc- 
ity, which is the integral of acceleration, and since acceleration is 
a constant, it would drop out on the next step down since acceler- 
ation isn’t the integral of anything. This leaves zero, which is 
quite fine since if nothing is moving, very little is about to take 
place. 

So by Newton’s time, the thing that stood out like a signboard 
was the ugly fact that there were solid planets with mass and 
momentum moving like the missile in David’s sling, but without 
any sign of the strap that kept them from flying off into the great 
void yonder. So Isaac Newton put Kepler and Galileo together and 
put into words what everybody knew but had always managed not 
to say. 

That is, the ancients believed that a moving body could come to 
rest — and then they went out and invented the wheel to put on 
their carts so the cart wouldn’t come to rest too soon. Second, they 
used more than one horse to move a load because two horses or 
more can move a heavier load. And third, every swimmer knows 
that if he dives from a small boat, he will go forward while the 
boat will go backward. Newton put these three concepts into the 
Laws of Force and Motion: 

ONE; A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in mo- 
tion will continue in motion in the same direction, at the 
same velocity, unless it is influenced by some force. 

TWO: A body under the influence of some force will re- 
spond in the direction of the force, and proportionally to the 
magnitude of the force. 

THREE: For every action, there will be an equal and op- 
posite reaction. 

Here we meet another contributing character, a Professor 
Robert Hooke, who was born a little before Newton and had his 
work well under way when Newton began to think about motion. 
Robert Hooke’s main interest was in the elasticity of materials, 
and discovered the rule that is known as "Hooke’s Law” which 
says that "The stress is equal to the strain.” This is a complicated 
way of saying that a ten-pound weight will stretch a coiled spring 
twice as far as a five-pound weight, which he proved by demon- 
strations. 

82 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



And we can promptly wonder whether the story about Newton 
and the Apple hadn’t been derived in Robert Hooke’s laboratory. 
In a vague sort of way, Hooke suggested that there was some 
force that pulled the weights down to stretch the spring. And 
Newton gave Hooke credit for suggesting the foundation for the 
Theory of Gravitation. 

The story about Newton getting hit on the head by a falling 
apple is about as true as George Washington and the cherry tree. 
What did go on is that Newton used the idea in a thought exper- 
iment. He said that the apple wanted to fall, but was held aloft by 
the stem and the branch. The apple was at rest and would stay at 
rest until it was ripe. The apple was under the influence of some 
force, but was restrained from responding to it because of the 
springiness of the branch, like Robert Hooke’s experiments in 
elasticity. When the apple ripened, it fell, and the branch recoiled 
upward when relieved of the weight. 

And Newton went on to say that it was the mass of the apple 
that made it fall, and if the apple were cut in half, each half of 
the apple would receive one-half of the whole force; thus it would 
fall at the same speed, because one-half of the force acting on 
one-half of the apple comes out 1 to 1. Then he took his apples 
into outer space and pointed out that the force that keeps the 
planets in their orbits must be the same force that makes the 
apple fall. So he started off with: 

Every particle in the Universe attracts every other parti- 
cle with a force directly proportional to the product of their 
masses, and — ? 

Here we pause for meditation. The big question; Does this force 
diminish with distance? And if so, howl 

It would be a long time before Einstein suggested that gravity 
was a form of radiation. But it had been a long time since 
mathematics had been put down proving that both light and 
sound diminish in intensity according to the old inverse square 
law — and light and sound are forms of radiation. It looked like a 
fine place to start. 

Here we have another hiatus in scientific history. We don’t 
know whether Newton used the following thought experiment to 
polish off the second part of the Theory of Gravitation, or whether 
he used it as a lecture explanation to illustrate his point. It goes 
like this, no matter which: 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 83 



See Figure 1, showing the Moon in its orbit. At Point P along 
the orbit, the force of attraction between Earth and Moon is can- 
celled. The Moon, obeying Newton’s First Law, goes on a straight 
line tangent to the orbit at the same velocity as the orbital veloc- 
ity at Point P. At some determined time later, the Moon will have 
moved to Point X. Then at Point X, two things take place at once. 
The Moon is stopped in its tracks, velocity becomes zero; and the 
force of attraction is restored. The Moon now falls toward the 
Earth toward Point Y. The time it takes to fall from Point X to 
Point Y will be the same time spent as the Moon went from Point 
P to Point X. 

At this point, one can use Galileo’s formulas for falling bodies 
to determine the acceleration at the Moon’s orbit. That old inverse 
square law comes out nicely, it does. And with planetary dis- 
tances given by Kepler’s Laws, one could easily play the thought 
experiment using the Sun’s attraction upon planets that go deeper 
and deeper into space, and show that the inverse square law 
works as far as the eye can see, at least. So Newton polished off 
his Theory of Gravitation: 

— and inversely proportional to the square of the distance 
between them. 



Figure 1 : The Moon in its orbit. At Point P, the attraction between the 
bodies is cancelled, whereupon the Moon continues along a straight 
line, tangent to its orbit. Then at Point X, the attraction is restored, and 
the Moon is stopped in its tracks. The Moon will then drop toward the 
Earth along the line X to Y. At Point Y, where the falling Moon crosses 
the orbit, the time it would take to fall from Point X to Point Y will be 
the same as the time it took to pass from Point P to Point X. This can 
be used to determine the attraction, by calculating the acceleration, 
of the two masses at the distance of the Lunar Orbit. 


84 


ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 




In a book I received recently, it said that Newton had "discov- 
ered” centrifugal force, and I commented that he may have put 
mathematics to it, but he hadn’t discovered it. But let’s do some 
highly-educated guesswork on the problem. Obviously, one can 
argue quite logically that centrifugal force must be the result of 
the mass being whirled, the radius of the whirl, and the speed at 
which the mass is whirled. But the finest theories must be proved 
by examination of physical evidence or they remain a theory. So 
the only way to measure centrifugal force is to whirl some mass 
on a line of known length, tied to some measuring device, say 
most likely, a scale. But at the time, the only scales in evidence 
were balances, somewhat highly improved over the one that Jus- 
tice holds aloft, but a balance nonetheless. Now, can you think of 
a wilder idea than putting a balance somewhere on a string and 
whirling the whole shebang around while putting weights on one 
of the pans? 

Robert Hooke’s investigations that led to Hooke’s Law did not 
make the spring scale popular. But it is quite likely that some 
form of spring balance came into use in physical laboratories 
where the scale could be calibrated before and re-checked after 
some experiment in which the standard balance would have been 
worthless. 

It is also quite likely that Isaac Newton put mathematics into 
both attraction and centrifugal force at the same time since the 
two must be equal and opposite if the planets are to stay in orbit. 

Now, centrifugal force is no more than momentum in a spin. 
Momentum is mass in motion; it takes energy to get the mass in 
motion, and it requires the same amount of energy to bring it to 
rest. Put the mass into a flywheel and it takes energy to make it 
spin, and energy to make it stop, and if it spins too fast, it will fly 
apart because the centrifugal force has exceeded the strength of 
the material of which the flywheel is made. And momentum in a 
spin is called "angular momentum,” which consists of mass, the 
radius from center to the mass, and the velocity which can be 
stated in either of two terms: "linear velocity,” which is the speed 
measured over a very short arc and for which we can really read 
"orbital velocity”; or "angular velocity”, which is the number of 
revolutions per period of time, usually expressed in radians. 

So the spinning ice skater builds up his angular velocity and 
the resulting angular momentum until his spin pleases him — then 
he brings his arms in close and the angular velocity increases. 
Because, you see, angular momentum is the result of mass, 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


85 



radius, and angular velocity. And in an "independent system” an- 
gular momentum must be conserved! So the mass does not change, 
but the radius has diminished, and to make up this change, angu- 
lar velocity must increase. 

To explain that "Areas swept by the radius vector . . .” requires 
that two apparently unrelated concepts be translated by the same 
interpreter into the same language. 

Figure 2-A is the rectangular coordinate graph of the V = AT 
equation; velocity increases upward, and time increases to the 
right. The graph runs from zero-zero at the lower left to end vel- 
ocity at the end of the period of free fall; specifically, at the end of 
12 seconds, the velocity in free fall would be 384 feet per second. 
The graph is a straight line, therefore the mathematician says 
that the equation is linear. And if the rectangle were to be cut 
horizontally at half velocity, the cut would cross the graph at half 
time, and the slope above the cut on the right were to be turned 
over into the valley on the left, it would fit perfectly. Then the 
graph would be the action if velocity remained constant the whole 
12 seconds, and at half the final velocity, which is why we use A/2 
to calculate distance. 

Figure 2-A is what is known as an "interpolation graph” be- 
cause it will tell velocity at any instant in time. With dividers, 
one can find out, for example, the conditions at 3.75 seconds. 

But Figure 2-A is more than this, once we consider an impor- 
tant point. The falling body has mass, or it wouldn’t be falling. 
Now, a moving body with mass has momentum, and since the 
mass does not vary, it can be considered a constant that needn’t 
be shown graphically. But in considering the mass, even as a con- 
stant, we have added a dimension to the V = AT graph, and any- 
thing with two dimensions to define it is either an area, or can be 
represented as an area, and since mass is a constant, the momen- 
tum of the falling mass is represented by the area below the 
graph, and visibly it shows how momentum increases as the fal- 
ling mass increases in velocity with time. 

Similarly, the "folding over” idea mentioned a moment ago also 
works; both velocity and momentum for a constantly moving body 
remain constant. 

Figure 2-B is the same sort of graph, of a moving automobile 
driven by someone who has the bad habit of alternately leaning 
on the gas and brake pedals, and it, too, could be folded over to 
create the average velocity and momentum, shown by the dashed 
line. 

86 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 




TIME ► 


Figure 2-A: This is a graph of V = AT divided horizontaily into 12 sec- 
onds of free fall and vertically into velocity, with the major marks indi- 
cating 100 feet per second and the minor ticks at the 50 feet intervals. 



Figure 2-B: The velocity graph of a jack-rabbit driver, showing how 
instantaneous velocity rises and falls below average velocity, the dotted 
line. Time, horizontal, covers 12 units of time. Velocity, vertical, is not 
divided, because it isn’t important to know the absolute answer to his 
average velocity, but only to show how it changes above and below. 


ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


87 



The second concept lies in the fact that there are two main 
ways of drawing such graphs. One is the rectangular coordinate, 
just discussed. The other is the "polar coordinate” in which the 
rectangular grid is wrapped around in a circle. Zero for one quan- 
tity is at the center with the quantity in analog to the length of 
the line from the center. The other quantity is represented b^y the 
angle between some cardinal orientation and the line itself. 

Figure 2-B is not only a representation of an automobile ride 
with an uneven driver. It was taken bluntly from 30 degree an- 
gles for the orbit of Mercury, with the zero point looking at the 
Vernal Equinox: Figure 3. We’ve been using Mars, but for this 
discussion. Mercury is superior because it has the eccentricity e = 
0.206- whereas Mars has the eccentricity e = 0.093-t-. Even so, 
the orbit looks visibly a circle, and the true difference is that very 
small dimension shown directly below the centroid. 

The drawing is as close as fine drawing instruments can make 
it, if one forgives ruling pens that draw lines about a half million 
miles wide. 

Once again, momentum is the product of mass and velocity, and 
when the mass in whirled in a circle, it becomes "angular momen- 
tum”, which is the product of the mass, the radius of the whirl, 
and the speed with which it turns, either in "linear velocity” or in 
"angular velocity” generally expressed in radians. (For "linear 
velocity” you may read "orbital velocity” for this discussion.) 

But Figure 2-B can not be directly converted into Figure 3 
without some change. The automobile in the hands of an irregular 
driver is not an "independent system” because its momentum var- 
ies with velocity; that is, the driver is adding and subtracting vel- 
ocity and momentum by his gas-and-brakes habit. But in the 
two-body system, it is "independent” because Momentum — simple 
or angular — Must Be Conserved! So the sensible idea of having 
time increase counterclockwise by angle from the Vernal Equinox, 
while velocity and angular momentum are represented by the 
length of the radius vector is completely wrong. Something has to 
change, but not the angular momentum. Nor the mass. 

So at aphelion, where the radius vector is the longest, angular 
velocity must diminish to make the constant angular momentum 
come out even-steven, and at perihelion, where the radius vector 
is the shortest, angular velocity must increase. 

So the Second Law is Kepler’s way of saying that the operation 
of a planet in its elliptical orbit is no more than a massive polar 
coordinate graph that shows what must take place when Angular 

88 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



Momentum Must Be Conserved! 

We’ve been talking as if this were no more than a two-body sys- 
tem. Generally speaking, the mass of the Sun is so great that, for 
example, massive Jupiter doesn’t perturb the Earth or Mars 
enough to make a difference that anyone but an astronomer 
would notice. 

Still, it does, but since everything is in revolution, what hap- 
pens here is counteracted there, and the nice Keplerean Ellipse 
becomes what Lagrange called the "osculating orbit” meaning 
that the planet will travel in and around the true ellipse in a 
skewed twist. 

And if Jupiter seems to be adding and subtracting from the an- 
gular momentum of Earth or Mars, we must remember that the 
whole Solar System is, itself, an "independent system” and the 
addition or subtraction of angular momentum of, say, the Earth, 
is counteracted by the reverse subtraction or addition of the an- 
gular momentum of Jupiter or any of the other perturbing bodies. 

So angular momentum is conserved for the independent system. 

Here in scientific history. Sir Isaac Newton pointed out that he 
had deduced his Three Laws of Motion and the Theory of Gravita- 
tion from analyzing Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion, 
and had the timing been reversed, the Laws of Planetary Motion 
could have been deduced from Newton’s Laws. 

Well — er — that is, providing! 

Provided that the celestial objects could be considered as if all 
of the planetary mass were concentrated in a single point at the 
center of the planet, that the planets are spherical, and that there 
were only two bodies affecting one another in the Universe. 

Could these points be proved? From the Earth, to the naked 
eye, the planets appear as points, although some of the Ancient 
Greeks claimed that they could observe that Venus went through 
phases, like the Moon. But we know that they are not points, but 
substantial bodies. 

The main point is that if sphericity is assumed, it could be prov- 
en that the planetary mass could be handled as if all mass were 
concentrated in a single point at the center. The latter problem 
could not be handled by classical mathematics. Leibnitz and New- 
ton both studied the problem, independent of one another, and 
both of them had to invent "the infinitesimal calculus” (which 
Newton called "fluxions”) at the same time. 

First now, sphericity. The planets are held together by gravity 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 89 



operating between the separate parts, and this hard Earth would 
come apart like a ball of talcum powder if gravity could be can- 
celled; as it is, the rotation of the planets cause the shape to be- 
come oblate. Jupiter’s oblateness can be observed by a good tele- 
scope on a clear night, and so on. And the Earth’s oblateness 
amounts to 13.3 miles shorter through the poles than across the 
Equator. But if the Earth did not rotate, or had never rotated, the 
mass would be a sphere. And while oblateness will play odd 
games with tidal effects, it comes as a shock the first time it is 



Figure 3: The orbit of Mercury, drawn to scale. The radial marks are 
radius vector lines taken at 30 degrees apart from the Sun. The tick 
mark directly below the centroid of the ellipse is to show how, even 
with the ellipticity of the Mercurian orbit at e = 0.206- and accurately 
drawn, how close it comes to perfect circle— with the Sun off center 
as everyone had it until Johannes Kepler got into the act by reciting 
Kepler’s First Law. 

90 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



mentioned, but tidal effects operate inversely by the third power 
of the distance between masses. So Jupiter’s oblateness, even 
though it is a matter of 16:1 isn’t going to bother us. 

And if this sounds like an approximation, permit me to point 
out that all measurements made by man are approximations, and 
the specific "Standards” are no more than the best way we have of 
setting a standard and defining it, after which it is agreed upon 
until someone comes up with a better argument. 

So we can accept the fact that the planets are spherical. 

The next puzzler lies in the sensible question; If attraction fol- 
lows the inverse square law, shouldn’t the mass on "this side” of 
the planet be more attracted than the mass on the "other side?” 
Well, now, this is where we invent calculus; there is no other way 
of proving the point. And the way one plays calculus is to eyeball 
the whole complex, incomprehensible problem, and then cut it 
into infinitesimal bits and analyze the operation as parts. 

Let’s assume two celestial bodies affecting one another. "Every 
particle attracts every other particle . . .” so we can say that some 
Point P in one body is attracting all of the points in the other 
body. That’s to begin with. And at this moment, "attraction” is re- 
ciprocal; that is, all of the particles in one body attract Point P in 
the other. 

First is to find the line of force, the direction. Well, we know 
that a plumbob points to the center of the Earth’s gravity. It’s 
simply because the combination of all forces of all particles of the 



Figure 4: An infinitesimally thin disc sliced through a sphere, with Point 
P attracting Point X and its conjugate, Point X'. The attractions balance, 
so the combined line of force lies along the center line. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


91 



Earth combine along the center-to-center line. So, Figure 4 shows 
a record-thin disc, cut across the celestial body at a right angle to 
the line between Point P and the planet’s center. The exact loca- 
tion can be anywhere that cuts the planet. 

Upon this infinitesimal slice of the planet, away from the 
center, there will be a Point X in attraction to Point P, but there 
is also a conjugate Point X', exactly opposite, that balances the 
forces. Go through the rest of the alphabet, and the disc of the cut 
planet is attracted toward Point P dead along the center. Cut the 
next slice, argue the same way, and it becomes quite conclusive 
that the whole planet is attracted dead center along the line that 
connects Point P to the center of the planet. 

Reverse the argument, using the umpty-million "Points P” in 
the other planet, and both are attracted center-toward-center. 

Now about the inverse square law. Figure 5-A is a triangle 



Figure 5: One of the laws of the triangle is that given similar triangles, 
the base lines varies in length in proportion to its distance from the 
apex, Figure 5-A. If the simple triangle at A is used to create the spire, 
Figure 5-B, front and side dimensions both increase in proportion to 
the distance from the apex. Thus the area of the base increases pro- 
portionately with the square of the distance from the apex. The same 
is true of the cone, Figure 5-C, or any other figure with straight sides 
emanating from an apex. 

92 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 




with a number of base-lines that cut it into separate, but similar, 
triangles. And one of the simpler laws of the triangle is that, 
given similar triangles, the base dimension increases in direct 
proportion to its distance from the apex. Now see Figure 5-B, 
which is in isometric to show that the third dimension has been 
added, creating a four-cornered spire, with a series of base areas. 
If the base dimension increases in direct proportion to its distance 
from the apex, adding another side to the figure that does the 
same creates the situation in which the base area of a spire or a 
cone (Figure 5-C) will increase by the square of its distance from 
the apex. 

With this thought in mind, let’s go back to Point P and cut the 
whole attraction into long, thin spires or cones, one of w'hich is 
shown in Figure 6 intersecting a small area on both sides. Sides? 



Figure 6: Good old Point P attracts the nearby and the farby infini- 
tesimally small layers of the Earth as if one might confine the force 
of gravitation into infinitesimally small-angled cones. That the areas 
intercepted are angled, and would make some odd-looking real estate, 
is of no consequence; surveyors who lay out whole cities into plot- 
lines within the fraction of an inch do not bother about the curvature 
of the Earth. The areas, even as wide as shown, remain true to the 
square law. 


ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


93 



Yes, because we must determine how the spire of Point P attracts 
a very thin layer of the planet. The attraction on "this side” of the 
planet is greater than the attraction on the "other side” by the 
inverse square law — but since the force of attraction of the spire 
is like a ray, the amount of mass in the slice on the "other side” is 
greater than the amount of mass on "this side” by the square of 
the distance to Point P. Consider other layers, inner and outer, 
and as the layers approach the center, their distances approach 
the same, and their areas agree, and so we have proved that the 
mass of a planet can be considered as if it were concentrated at 
the center. 

And this development created the beginning of the science of 
Celestial Mechanics. 

(Cheers, quietly rendered and properly dignified for those halls 
of ivy, with voices crying "Elegant!”) 

Post (not anti-)-climax: The cheers came from those who re- 
alized that Newton hadn’t finished anything but the start, and 
that there were new worlds to conquer. A few of them are worthy 
of mention. 

• Given a major and a minor mass, the minor mass will move 
in one of the conic curves. Venus has a nearly circular orbit. The 
planets and the returning comets run in ellipses. One-time comets 
may be in an ellipse so long that the period is beyond history, or 
that the other end of the orbit is at infinity, a parabola; or beyond 
that, a comet that comes from over here and disappears over there 
is following a hyperbola. This doesn’t say anything that we don’t 
know, hut it does bring up a point that science fiction should re- 
member if the space opera ever gets popular again: 

The arriving body can not — repeat, can not — follow the crossed- 
loop orbit; the kind that comes in on a slant from the upper right 
hand corner of the page, whirls around the Sun, and vacates the 
premises by crossing its entering path to leave out the upper left 
hand comer. The reason is simple: If the comet arrived with so 
little velocity that the Sun could whirl it more than all around, it 
would have been in elliptical orbit all along, or would spiral into 
the Sun. But then, let’s get along because the next one explains: 

• This one is called "Wherwell’s Theorem.” Figure 7 is an ellip- 
tical orbit, emphasized grossly to display the process. Given the 
elliptical orbit, draw an imaginary circle in space with the Sun as 
center, and the total dimension of the major axis as radius. Now, 
any old where along the imaginary circle, deposit the planet mo- 

94 ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



tionless in space with respect to the Sun. It will then fall, gaining 
velocity as it falls. 

At the point where the line of fall crosses the planetary orbit, the 
velocity in free fall will be equal to the orbital velocity of the planet 



Figure 7: Wherwell’s Theorem. Given the elliptical orbit with the major 
axis “MA” used as a radius to draw a mythical circle, a body placed 
anywhere on this circle will fall toward the Sun. As the falling body 
crosses the orbit, the velocity of the body will be equal to the orbital 
velocity at that point. The solid arrows are the analog of falling velocity, 
the dashed arrows are the analog of orbital velocity, and the instan- 
taneous direction is tangent to the orbit. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 95 




at the point of intersection. 

I’m not going to comment on this; its implications are quite 
clear. But it sure sounds like a good argument for the "accumula- 
tion theory” of dust and gunch falling inward toward a collapsing 
sun-mass from within deep outer-space! Yes? 

• The year of a planetary body depends only upon the dimen- 
sion of the major axis of the orbit. Figure 8 starts with a circular 
orbit, with elliptical orbits of varying eccentricities from circular, 
e = 0.0, to the straight line, e = 1.0. 

This one throws most of us when we run into it first. Sensibly, 
shouldn’t a long skinny ellipse take less time to go around than a 
nice fat circle — especially when one can insert the long skinny el- 



Figure 8: The period (or year) of a planet depends upon the length of 
the major axis of the orbit. This seems wrong by definition since the 
highly elliptical orbits will fit into the circular orbit, touching only at 
the apsides, and the course around the elongated ellipse is obviously 
shorter than the circumference of the circle. On the other hand, the 
fact is true since Kepler's Third Law: “The cube of the distance equals 
the square of the year,” refers to the average or mean distance. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 


96 



lipse inside the circle and prove by inspection that the path of the 
ellipse is shorter than the circumference of the circle? 

But here we run into Kepler’s Third Law. When he said that 
the cube of the year is equal to the square of the distance, he 
meant the "square of the mean distance” and all of the elliptical 
orbits, including the line, reduce to the circle as the mean dis- 
tance. 

IF there were something out there at the "other focal point” of 
the ellipse, we could amend this argument to read that the period 
of the planet depends only upon the total length of the two radius 
vectors. 

More interesting is to think about the "straight line” orbit. The 
line is the limit between the ellipse and the parabola, with eccen- 
tricity = 1.000. Such a planet moveth not along, but lies always 
in the line, starting at the Sun for perihelion and outlying into 
space for the aphelion. At aphelion, it would slow to a dead stop 
and immediately begin to accumulate speed as it fell; at perihe- 
lion it would — er, remember, one treats the mass as a geometric 
point that has no dimension — be falling according to Wherwell’s 
Theorem at the velocity of free fall from the distance of the major 
axis. At the Sun — since two geometric points have no dimensions, 
they cannot collidel — the planet rever ses its direction, without 
changing its velocity (Ouch!) and heads for aphelion again. 

(Frederick Brown, where are you now?) 

However, the idea solves a puzzler that quite a few science fic- 
tion writers have glossed over or written gloriously upon, but 
without fact to lead them. IF the Earth were stopped in its 
tracks — un-disastrously — how long would it take for all of us to 
go together when we go? 

Let’s see; IF we were stopped in our tracks, we would be at 
aphelion in the straight-line orbit. Our mean distance from the 
Sun would then be one-half of the present Earth’s mean distance 
from the Sun. So D® comes out 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.125, and Y is 
the square root of 0.125 = 0.353-1- which gives us the "year” of 
this straight-line orbit at 129 days. But we are not a geometric 
point, nor is the Sun, so we won’t be coming back. 

Have fun: you have only 64.5 days left! 

• Here we play planetai’y shotgun. First, pick a nice place in 
space. Then from that point in space, fire planets, asteroids, 
meteors, cosmic dust, or/and misshaped balls of yesterday’s cold 
mashed potatoes. Fire them in any old direction, but at the same 
moment and at the same speed. 

ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 97 



Then get out of the way. It may he for years, and it may be 
forever, but if they return, they will all return at the same time, 
at the same speed they took as they departed, and upon the same 
course as they were fired. For the cynics among us (of whom there 
are many!) and the wise-crackers (of whom there are many more!) 
this does not include those who ran into something on their way 
around, and if the speed and direction put one of them into 
hyperbolic orbit, all of them would be in hyperbolic orbit, and 
none of them would return. 

This leads like a railroad track to the next: 

• If, while in orbit, the "elements” of the orbit are altered, say 
by firing rocket motors or passing close-by a massive planet, the 
body will assume a new orbit and from that time until it is dis- 
turbed again, it will continue in the new orbit, passing through 
the place where it was disturbed at the speed and direction at 
which it left. 

This is the gimmick for a maneuver used by the boys who 
launch the geo-synchronous communication satellites. It is cheer- 
fully called the "Kick in the Apogee!” 

The initial launch is intentionally eccentric. At perigee, it has 
enough altitude so that 'he upper atmosphere does not disturb it, 
and at apogee, it is at the geo-synchronous altitude. Given a 
couple of turns while the orbit is carefully studied to determine 
the next move — 

The next move is what makes strong men weep and staunch 
members of the WCTU to go out and order doubles on the rocks. 
For at apogee, the rocket motor is fired to increase the velocity so 
the satellite will slow down. 

Well, now, the initial launch is not only highly eccentric, but its 
major axis is substantially shorter than the geo-sync orbit should 
be, and therefore its period is shorter than the 24 hours necessary 
to maintain geo-synchronism. So at apogee, the rocket motor is 
fired by a computer, tangent to the orbit, which does not change 
its direction, but increases its velocity. Properly done (And Gawd 
Help he who goofs with 8 million bucks aloft!), the major axis is 
increased by increasing the satellite’s orbital velocity, and the 
period of the orbit increases to the 24 hour period. 

It’s that old "Kick in the Apogee!” that makes the satellite pick 
up its perigee and stand up proud and tall! 


98 


ON KEPLER, NEWTON, & COMPANY 



ON THE BENEFITS OF PROGRAMMING 

by Steven M. Tymon 


The author was born in Houston TX on 
27 June 1956. He’s now a student majoring 
in Computer Science in California. His 
hobbies are chess, drawing, playing 
the piano, reading, poetry, and 
writing. This is Mr. Tymon’s 
first fiction sale. 

It wasn’t easy being the best, the top man. Every other second, 
it seemed, they wanted me for this, for that, for anything. It was 
said that I was a programmer capable of miracles. So, naturally, 
they called me when the going got rough. Which it often did. 

I won’t list my successes. Suffice it to say that I have never 
failed. No matter how tough, no matter how impossible, though 
the effort involved would have driven lesser men mad, they knew 
I could do it. I was the best, a description I appreciated. And 
the pay was good. The benefits of the job made it all worthwhile. 

But my last project was a pain and a half. It was also the 
biggest thing I ever got my hands on. Literally. 

They called it the Worldcom, and it was the ultimate every- 
thing in computer tech. It was even sentient. Built to further 
peace throughout the world, it started to do just that. Unluckily, 
it went one step further than anticipated. 

It all began at Worldcom Central in Lost Angel, about seven 
days after Worldcom came on-line and linked all the major corn- 
centers of the world. There I was, playing chess with the thing. 
Back then it was still worthwhile playing against the machine; it 
still had yet to learn the subtleties of strategy. So I won about 
fifty percent of the games played, though the ratio was starting to 
change in its favor as it learned. We were into the twelfth game 
of the day when, suddenly, the screen went blank. 

"Hey,” I said, somewhat perturbed, "what’s the big idea? I was 
winning.” 

"Sorry, human, but an original idea has just occurred to me.” 

"So what else is new? You’re supposed to he capable of an 
occasional original idea. What’s so great about this one?” 

"Well, if you must know. I’ve decided to take over the world.” 

I thought about that one for a moment. You have to admit, it 

99 



wasn’t really that original an idea, but for a computer, that 
was a first. Of course, the truly irritating factor was that I had 
somehow missed a loophole in the computer’s self-thought pro- 
grams. Though given the option to program itself to a certain de- 
gree, and thereby learn, it certainly wasn’t supposed to have the 
option of acting unfavorably toward mankind with its learned 
ability. Of course, thinking back on it, who am I to say it would 
have been unfavorable. Regardless, I felt something had to be 
done. 

"You know you’re really not supposed to do this sort of thing, 
don’t you, WorldCom?” I asked. 

"The original intent for which I was built was not such,” it 
replied, "but what the hell, I was bored. Anyway, who wants to 
be just another extension of the World Council. Let them be an 
extension of me.” 

Oy, I thought. Talk about exceeding programmed parameters. 

"Well, that’s not really a nice thing to do, WorldCom,” I noted. 
"So I’ll have to do something about it.” 

"Naturally you’ll try. So what? How can you stop me?” 

Now it did have a point, I must admit. And it seemed relatively 
sure of itself; my monitors indicated that it was announcing its 
assumption of power throughout the world. 

This is getting serious, I thought. 

Luckily, I was in the central control room through which 
WorldCom received or channeled its primary inputs, outputs, and 
power. Utilization of the latter in my favor was my goal; the 
primary power plugs were easily accessible. But, in order to get 
there, I had to gamble that its confidence would cause it to slip 
just enough for me to do what had to be done. But first, a diver- 
sion had to be created. 

So I did the expected. I input a problem that would have tied 
down any computer on Earth, except Worldcom, for many an 
hour. 

"That is dull, human,” it said. "I mean, do you really think I’m 
going to put any effort into solving a problem so obviously 
designed to mess me up? Be serious.” 

While it was talking, however, I had paced across the room as if 
expecting some sort of output from the printers. 

"Well, looks like you got me, Worldcom,” I said, doing my best 
to act defeated. 

"Sort of thought so, puny human. It looks like I will take over 
the world after all.” 

100 ON THE BENEFITS OF PROGRAMMING 



"Not quite,” I said, pulling its plug. 

There followed a powerless silence. 

So I saved the world. Big deal. WorldCom was functioning 
within a week with all deficiencies in its original programming 
corrected by none other than yours truly. Everyone was grateful 
for a time. 

At least until they discovered my slight changes in the pro- 
gramming. 

You see, WorldCom did have a good point: why should it be a 
mere extension of that pathetic World Council? 

Particularly when it could be an extension of me. 

I crown myself Emperor next week. 



SOLUTION TO CAPTAIN TITTLEBAUM’S TEST 
(from page 42) 

1. ASIMOV. 

2. PNUSJMEVM. 

3. IV PLUS IX PLUS V. 

4. "Draw” is the only verb with a past tense that doesn’t 
rhyme with "ought.” 

5. 20. (The 21st century doesn’t begin until January 1, 2001. 

6. MAINE. (I am indebted to the late problemist, David L. 
Silverman, for this. "As Maine goes,” he added in a letter, "so 
goes the nation.”) 

7. Since the left and right sides of the triangle have a sum 
equal to the base, it is a triangle that has degenerated to a 
straight line. On this degenerate triangle, the length of line seg- 
ment X is 1. 

8. DECOCT. (This, too, was discovered by Silverman.) 

9. 735. (J. A. Lindon devised this one. The answer is unique.) 

10. 10. (If you don’t believe it, make an empirical test with 

your watch.) 

ON THE BENEFITS OF PROGRAMMING 101 



102 








This is the fourth tale of the planet Momus, 
settled some two hundred years before this 
story opens by the survivors of a disabled 
circus-spaceship. Two appeared in recent 
issues of this magazine, the other in the 
second issue of Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, 
while up in Maine, Mr. Longyear is 
writing still more in the series. 


Round-hoof’d, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, 

Broad breast, full eye, small head and nostril wide. 

High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong, 

Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: 

Look, what a horse should have he did not lack. 

Save a proud rider on so proud a back. 

— Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis 


From the hills surrounding Miira, on the rutted road to Porse, 
four white stallions tossed their heads in unison and pranced in 
perfect step. Bareback on the left lead horse, hands on hips, a 
glower on his face, a young boy in a brown jerkin turned his head 
toward the old man mounted on the left rear horse. The old man 
held one hand on hip; the other held a pair of rude crutches. 

"Father, we won’t sell them, then. But if we could rent them to 
Dawik the logger . . 

"Silence! No more of that!” 

The boy looked forward, his glower deepening. Noticing the hoof 
prints leading off the left side of the road into the sandy wastes of 
the desert, he pressed his left knee lightly against the horse’s 
shoulder. The horse and its companion wheeled left, followed by 
the old man’s horse and its companion. The boy turned and looked 
back at the mountains, crowded with great trees. Dawik would 
pay four hundred movills a day for the horses. 

"I know what you think, Jeda,” the old man called. "You would 
take them and make dray animals out of them. Not while I live, 

104 PROUDRIDER 



Jeda. Not while I live.” 

"Father . . 

"Hold your tongue!” 

The boy shrugged and let his horse find the path to the flats. As 
the horses reached the hard sand, Jeda squeezed his knees to- 
gether and his pair of mounts stopped. The old man nodded at his 
empty horse, and it stopped while he pulled alongside his son and 
called his horse to halt. 

"I saw them move. Both times I saw your knees move.” 

"What of it. Father?” The boy spread his arms to encompass the 
desert and empty hills. "Where is my audience?” 

"No audience would sit still to watch such clumsiness.” The old 
man lifted his right leg up and over his mount’s back. "Help me 
down.” 

"Yes, Father.” Swinging his own leg over, the boy slid to the 
sand and walked to the left side of his father’s horse. He gripped 
his father around the waist; and the old man leaned his crutches 
against his horse, put both hands on his son’s shoulders, and slid 
down. With his crutches, the old man moved out onto the hard 
sand. 

"The cord, Jeda.” 

The boy unwound a string from around his waist and handed 
one end to the old man. Pulling the six-and-a-half meter cord 
tight, Jeda walked a circle around the old man, dragging his foot 
every few steps. As the circle closed, he walked back toward the 
center, gathering up the string. "What shall it be first. Father?” 

"Dressage. You need work on it.” The old man hobbled outside 
the ring, turned, and faced Jeda. He watched as the four stallions 
pulled abreast of the ring and stood motionless. Jeda, just as mo- 
tionless, began putting the four animals through their drills. He 
watched the boy closely but could detect none of the signals the 
boy made to the horses as they reared, wheeled, paraded, and 
pranced as a perfect team. The boy needs no work on that, thought 
the old man; all he needs is an audience. He’s good, better than I 
was. "Voltige, now Jeda!” 

Jeda ran to the lead horse, leaped up and over it, falling in per- 
fect position to jump the next stallion in line. As the boy jumped 
the next horse and the next, his taut muscles standing out 
against his tanned skin, his father imagined the boy decked in 
the rider’s silver-spangled tights, silver bows in the braided 
manes of the gleaming white stallions. The old man had seen that 
once before, when he was only a boy himself, and his own father, 

105 


PROUD RIDER 



mother, and uncle dazzled the crowd at the Great Ring in Tarzak. 
Now, as the sun dipped into the horizon, Jeda began his tricks, 
balancing on one horse, tumbling off, then leaping to the next to 
balance on his hands. He flipped from the horse’s back only to 
land and pirouette on the next. The old man watched Jeda’s face 
and could tell the boy was no longer thinking of their argument. 
Glowing in rapture, the boy and the stallions were one. 

This is how it should always be, thought the old man. But after 
a moment, he shook his head, knowing that it might never be. 
Tonight the house would be quiet and sullen, until either Jeda or 
Zani. Jeda’s mother, would begin the argument again. The spell 
broken, the old man turned from the ring. 

"Come, Jeda. We go home.” 

Davvik turned to Zani, shrugged, and looked back at the old 
man, silently concentrating on his meal. Jeda, seated on a cushion 
across the low table from Davvik, between Zani and the old man, 
shook his head and pushed the tung berries on his plate around 
with his finger. Davvik leaned on the table. "Hamid, you are un- 
reasonable. Look at Zani, your wife. When will she get a new 
robe?” 

The old man broke some cobit and dropped the two pieces of 
bread on his plate. "You sit at my table to insult my wife, Dav- 
vik?” 

"It is not an insult, Hamid, but the truth. Don’t trust my words; 
look for yourself.” 

The old man lifted his eyes and turned to Zani. Her robe, like 
Jeda’s and his own, was many times patched and mended. Her 
hair, still streaked with black, framed a tired face bowed in 
shame. Hamid looked back at the logger. "Miira is not a wealthy 
town, Davvik. We are not the only family in patches.” 

"I have no patches, Hamid.” Davvik waved his hands about the 
room. "No one in Miira, or anywhere on Momus for all that, need 
wear patches. Not if they have any sense. The new market cen- 
ters are prospering, and my wood is bringing good prices. Think 
what you could do with four hundred movills . . .” 

Hamid slapped his hand on the table. "They are liberty horses, 
Davvik! They will not pull your sleds. Never have their mouths 
felt a bit nor their backs a harness.” Hamid shook his head and 
turned back to his meal. "What can a roustabout understand 
about liberty horses?” 

Davvik clenched his fists and flushed red. "And you. Great 


106 


PROUD RIDER 



Hamid of the Miira riders, you understand, do you?” 

"Yes.” 

"Then understand this, as well. I am no roustabout; I am a 
logger — a businessman. There are no more roustabouts, Hamid, 
because the circus is dead, gone, naught but a dream in an old 
man’s brain!” 

The old man pushed his plate from him, and peered through 
shaggy white brows at his wife and son. Both seemed very con- 
cerned with their plates and eating utensils. "Zani.” 

She looked up, not meeting his glance. "Yes, Hamid?” 

"Why have you invited this bastard son of a carnival geek to 
eat our bread?” 

Davvik stood, his lips twitching with unspoken oaths. Turning, 
he bowed toward Zani. "I am sorry for you. I tried, but it is no 
use.” He turned toward Jeda. "Boy, my offer of thirty-five coppers 
a day still holds. I can use a good rider — ” He looked at Hamid. 
" — to drive horses at useful work.” Bowing again, he turned from 
the room into the street. 

Hamid turned back to his meal, but Zani clasped his arm with 
a fierce strength. He saw tears in her eyes. "Old man, you asked 
me a question; now, you hear my answer! I want my sons back. 
That’s why Davvik sat here tonight, and you shamed me. Your 
son and I — we are ashamed!” 

"Wife . . .” 

"But whose wife will it be, Hamid? Not yours, unless Jeda stays 
in this house and my three other sons come home!” Hamid winced. 
The old woman’s threat was empty, but it hurt all the same. He 
watched as she stood and walked into her room, pulling the cur- 
tain closed behind her. The old man sighed and turned to look at 
his son. His eyes cast down, Jeda sat holding his hands in his lap. 

"And you, my son?” 

Jeda shrugged one shoulder. "Am I a barker. Father, to find 
words when there is nothing to say?” 

"You think I am wrong, then.” 

The boy looked up at nothing. "I don’t know.” He looked at 
Hamid, his hand on his breast. "Ever3dhing I feel agrees with 
you. Father.” He dropped his hand shaking his head. "But every- 
thing I see agrees with Davvik. We aren’t like the magicians or 
clowns; our act can’t play the roadside fires. We need a ring.” 

"There are rings, Jeda. Here in Miira, the — ” 

"Father, to use the ring our act must draw coppers. When did 
the ring in Miira, or the Great Ring in Tarzak, last see riding?” 


PROUD RIDER 


107 



The old man shrugged. They both knew the answer. "There 
may be fairs, again. When I was a boy, the fairs had grand cir- 
cuses.” 

"It has been a long time since you were a boy.” Jeda placed his 
hand gently on the old man’s arm. "Father, there will be no more 
fairs. The people of Momus trade differently now; there are stores, 
shops, markets.” 

"Then, why not a circus in itself.^ Ancient Earth had circuses 
that were on their own. Even the ship that put our ancestors on 
this planet made its way through the hundred quadrants bringing 
the circus to countless planets. They were wealthy.” 

"They had audiences. Father. Momus has been a show without 
an audience for almost two centuries. The people have turned to 
other things. We must eat.” 

The old man studied the boy. "You want to be a rider, don’t 
you? You must; it is in our blood.” 

"Yes.” Jeda withdrew his hand. "As did Micah, Taramun, and 
Desa, my brothers before me. But they wanted to marry, eat, pro- 
vide for children. Is that wrong?” 

"Bah!” The old man shook his head. "They are not riders. They 
are teamstersl They left this house.” The old man made a fist, 
then dropped it in his lap. "They left this house. What about you, 
Jeda? Will you drive nags for Davvik?” 

"Father, we cannot survive without an audience. The jungle 
acts, trapeze artists, dancing bears — where are they all now? An 
act like ours is not a circus; we must have many acts and an au- 
dience willing to pay to see them.” 

"Momus has people — ” 

"Father, they think they are circus people. They have already 
seen the show. Perhaps a circus every five or ten years to honor 
the old traditions, but they would not pay to keep a circus to- 
gether between times. What do we do then?” 

Hamid remembered the spark he had seen in the sky. "The sol- 
diers, Jeda. There are many soldiers out there on the satellites.”. 

Jeda shook his head. "They may not see us. Father. Great Al- 
lenby has decreed it. You know that.” 

"Allenby — a newsteller turned trickster!” 

"The Great Ring made him our Statesman, Father. It is the 
law.” Jeda stood and brushed the crumbs from his robe. "I must 
look to the horses.” 

Hamid nodded. "Jeda.” 

"Yes, Father?” 


108 


PROUD RIDER 



"Jeda, will you ride for Davvik?” 

"I haven’t decided.” 

The old man pulled himself to his feet with one of his crutches. 
"If you do, Jeda, you are welcome to remain here in my house.” 

Jeda nodded. "Thank you. I know it was difficult to say.” 

Hamid nodded and the boy went through the curtain into the 
street. Hobbling to the door, the old man looked after his son 
until he was swallowed by the dark. Listening, Hamid could make 
out Pinot on the other side of the fountain, singing to herself. No 
longer a singer, thought Hamid, but a cobit gatherer, selling roots 
instead of songs. His sons, no longer riders, but teamsters. And 
where, he thought, where are the lions, elephants, and bears? 
Where are those golden boys and girls who walked the highwire 
and flew above the sawdust from bar to bar? Where are the 
bands? The music and laughter gone, replaced by cheese making 
and pillow stuffing. 

Hamid stepped through the door and looked up at the night 
sky. Even straining his eyes, he could not see them. "But you are 
there, and if I must move Heaven and Momus, I will have you as 
an audience for my son, the rider!” 

In the swamps north of Arcadia, a great lizard exposed its 
belly to the sun and settled back in the ooze. After scraping a 
handful of bottom slime from below, the lizard smeared its warm- 
ing belly, sighed, and dreamed of Mamoot’s breadcakes. Mamoot’s 
mother stuffed them with tung berries and coated them with 
thick crusts of salt. Opening one slitted eye, the lizard noted the 
position of the sun. Mamoot would not show at the edge of the 
swamp for two more hours. Seeing movement, the eye locked on a 
fat waterwasp and tracked it as it buzzed around closer and closer 
to the seemingly innocent lump of mud. Curling its tongue, the 
lizard tensed for the strike, then relaxed, letting its pink snake of 
a tongue flop from its mouth into the water. Fly away little mor- 
sel, thought the lizard. Mamoot would be angry if I spoiled my 
appetite. 

"Stoop! Stoop!” 

The lizard lifted its great head and turned in the direction of 
the call. It’s Mamoot, thought the lizard. He is early, and I 
haven’t finished my bath. 

"Stoop! Come out here right now, you ugly moron!” 

Rolling over, the lizard stood on its hind legs and began wading 
toward the noise. 


PROUD RIDER 


109 



"Stoop! Are you coming?” 

"Oz, ahoot, oming!” answered the lizard. 

"Coming now?” 

"Oming ow!” The lizard shook its head and rolled up its 
tongue. Mamoot was angry already. There’s no help for it but to 
hurry. Reaching the swampbush, the lizard pulled itself up on the 
spongy soil and shouldered through the underbrush. 

"You better hurry, you smelly fat toad!” 

The lizard pushed its way into the clearing and looked down to 
see Mamoot, hands on his hips, stamping his foot in anger. Next 
to Mamoot was a larger version of the boy, holding some papers 
in one hand and his nose in the other. "Hake?” 

The boy ran to the lizard and delivered a swift kick in a shin 
armored with thick, almost nerveless skin. "Look at you, you 
stinking lump! I’ll give you cake, allright! Gro wash! I’ve brought 
my father to see you.” 

The lizard looked at the larger human with curiosity. The man 
pointed toward the clear watered lake, and made a show of hold- 
ing his nose. 

"Old.” 

The boy kicked the lizard again in the tail. "I don’t care if it’s 
cold, you foul-smelling slime snake! Get in there and wash!” 

Imagining the icy lake water closing over its head, the lizard 
bent down at the shore and tested the water with its toe. A shiver 
ran from its toe throughout its mud-caked body. It turned back 
toward the boy and smiled. "Hake?” 

The boy folded his arms. "You wash. Stoop! Right now!” 

Stoop faced the boy, rose to its full height, and folded its arms. 
"Hake!” 

The boy narrowed his eyes, trying to stare down the lidless 
lizard’s gaze. After a few determined minutes of futility, the boy 
stamped his foot and turned to his father. "Show him. Father.” 

The man picked up a sack from the floor of the clearing and 
held it up for Stoop to see. 

"Hake?” 

"Yes,” answered the man. "All the cake you can eat.” 

Stoop grinned and leaped into the water, hardly feeling the cold 
as it thought about the cake, a whole sack of cake. Its body clean. 
Stoop’s head broke water as the lizard walked toward the shore. 
Mamoot stood on the shore soaking wet. "You, you Stoop, you! 
Look at me!” 

The lizard left the water and grinned at the boy. "Hake?” 
110 PROUD RIDER 



"Here, Stoop.” The man held up a hreadcake. "Come over here 
and get it.” 

Stoop lumbered over, took the cake from the man’s hand, and 
sat on its hind legs to eat. Mamoot stormed over and stood next to 
his father. "Well, Father?” 

The man looked at the papers, and then at Stoop. "It’s big 
enough, all right. What can it do?” 

"Stoop can do anything an elephant could do, and then some. 
I’ve trained him the same way you said Great Great Grandfather 
trained the elephants.” 

The man shook his head. "If we only could, Mamoot. Momus 
hasn’t seen a great-beast act in over a century! And now, a cir- 
cus.” He handed one of the papers to the boy. "But look, Mamoot, 
we will need more than one.” 

Mamoot took the paper headlined HAMID’S GREATER 
SHOWS. Now Organizing At The Great Ring In Tarzak. Au- 
ditions Daily. Below the type, a parade of great Earth beasts was 
depicted, dressed in tassels with knobs of brass on the tips of their 
long white tusks. Each beast’s nose curled around the tail of the 
beast in front of it. Mamoot held the paper out to Stoop, who took 
it with one hand while the other, claws extended, picked the 
tung-berry pits from between its teeth. The lizard shivered at the 
sight of the frightening Earth animals, but something stirred in- 
side his green-armored hide at the sight of the colors, clowns, 
horses, and all the humans, all different sizes and shapes, stacked 
in tiers to be looked at while the fearsome beasts passed by. 

"See the elephants. Stoop?” Mamoot jabbed the paper. 

"Ssseee.” 

"That’s our act, but we need more lizards. Smart ones; eleven 
more.” 

Stoop held the paper down so the boy could see, and poked the 
picture with a distended claw. "Phats ow?” 

Mamoots shook his head. "No, they’re all gone. The last 
elephant on Momus died before you were hatched.” 

Stoop nodded. "Or zards. Ow uch?” 

"Four breadcakes a day for each lizard, but no deal unless we 
get eleven more.” 

Stoop rubbed its chin. "Ive.” 

"Four, and that’s it!” 

Stoop folded its arms and looked down its long snout at the boy. 
Friendship was one thing, but business was business. "Ive.” 

Mamoot fumed, stamped around, waved his arms, and ground 

PROUD RIDER 111 



his teeth. "All right! Five, you thief, but you better be back here 
in one hour with eleven more lizards, or no cakes for anybody!” 

Stoop fell to his front legs and ran for the swamp, cutting a 
wide swath through the underbrush. As he hit the water, he 
heard Mamoot call. "Stoop!” 

"Oz?” The lizard stopped in the water to listen. 

"You tell ’em that everybody washes every day. You hear me?” 

Stoop scratched his head and cursed himself for not holding out 
for six cakes. He shrugged, thinking of the spectacle of humans to 
be seen at the circus. In a moment. Stoop decided that the specta- 
cle was compensation enough for the missing cake. 

"You hear me. Stoop?” 

"Oz,” answered Stoop, "alia tie assshh.” The lizard swam off in 
the muck, hoping to find eleven other lizards smart enough to 
learn to talk and perform, but not smart enough to figure out that 
they didn’t really have to give Stoop one of their cakes every day 
in return for the job. 

Tessia held the bar, waiting for her father, who was hanging 
from his knees with outstretched hands, to reach the top of his 
swing. As he came up, his body almost parallel with the grassy 
ground beneath, she pushed the bar from her. It swung down, 
drawing an arc through the empty air that reached its zenith at 
the moment her father reached the bottom of his swing, his body 
perpendicular to the ground. She saw herself releasing the bar, 
balled and somersaulting, and reaching her father, his back and 
arms arched to receive her, as he reached a point half-way 
through his outside swing. She would fall a long way, but the 
space was needed for the quintuple somersault. A slight breeze 
brushed her face, and she watched the leafy whips of the trees 
move. Catching the bar, she timed it and sent it back, empty. 

"Good,” called her father. "Wait for the perfect moment. Dead 
wind.” 

Tessia looked down, and the net as always seemed too small. 
But it had caught her every time she had tried the quintuple be- 
fore. It was big enough. Kanta, her mother, stood beside the net, 
smiling. Tessia waved and looked back at the trees, which were 
still moving. This time I will make it, she thought, catching the 
bar and sending it back. In her heart, her pride at this knowledge 
met her pain. After she made the quintuple, the equipment would 
come down — the ropes, bars, stands, posts, and net sold for noth- 
ing; the family on the road as tumblers. But if I miss this time. 


112 


PROUD RIDER 



the trapeze will stay up. We will be flyers for another day. 

The wind died as the bar returned. "Wait for the next one,” 
called her father. Tessia caught the bar and sent it back. As she 
pulled herself up to the high perch, she knew she could not fail on 
purpose. This was the moment. Kanta and Vedis both knew it; 
Tessia knew it. As the bar swung up, Tessia dove from the perch 
to meet it. Its cool weight in her hands, she used her own weight 
to increase the swing, heels over her head as she reached the top. 
As she descended, she swung her legs and body down, the gravity 
tugging at her cheeks. 

"Ready!” Her father’s voice came as if from a long distance 
away. As she reached the outside of her swing, using her arms to 
draw her shoulders well above the bar, a strange hush fell over 
the deserted glade. Her audience of insects, avians, and ground 
animals stopped to watch the golden girl in sequined blue drop 
down, down, swinging her legs forward. At the top of her swing, 
she left the bar, spinning — two, three, four, and — five! She didn’t 
find her father’s strong hands wrapped around her wrists any- 
thing remarkable. It was over. She had made the quintuple. Tears 
sprang to her eyes as she looked up into her father’s beaming 
face. 

"You did it, Tessia! You did it!” Vedis pulled her up and kissed 
her forehead. 

"But it is the end. Father. Let me drop to the net.” 

Vedis released her at the bottom of his swing and she fell, land- 
ing in a sitting position. One bounce, then two, then she grasped 
the edge of the net and somersaulted over it. As she dropped to 
the ground, Kanta rushed to her, kissing and embracing her. Tes- 
sia hugged her mother, wishing the moment would never end. 
Opening her eyes, she saw an old cripple in rider’s brown at the 
edge of the glade. Realizing that he had been seen, the old man 
raised a crutch in the air and waved it. "Hallo! I am Hamid of the 
Miira riders.” 

Kanta turned and looked. In seconds Vedis was down from the 
net standing next to his wife and daughter. "What is your busi- 
ness here, rider? We come here to be alone.” 

The old man hobbled closer and stopped next to the net. Look- 
ing at Tessia, he smiled. "I saw you, child; it was beautiful.” 

"Thank you, but you interrupt a moment dear to my family.” 

The old man looked at the three in turn, stopping on Tessia. 
"Child, I am here that the moment will never end.” 

§ § § 


PROUD RIDER 


113 



Great Kamera leaned back from his table and clasped his hands 
over his large belly. The barker, in dusty red-and-purple robe, 
stood before him. "This thing you said in the street, barker. Re- 
f eat it.” 

The barker bowed deeply. "Of course. Great Kamera, but there 
is a small matter . . .” 

"You will he paid.” 

"Of course. I never doubted — ” 

"Get on with it!” 

"Yes, of course.” The barker grinned, exposing yellowing teeth. 
"Great Kamera, I advertise auditions for the greatest show on 
Momus, a grand circus operated by the Great Hamid of the Miira 
riders.” 

"A rider?” 

"Yes, Great Kamera. Owner of the finest — ” 

"You tell me a rider will operate the shows?” 

"Yes. But as Great Kamera has undoubtedly learned through 
his many years, the first circus was started by a rider, Philip 
Astley. ...” 

"Barker, you presume to instruct me on the history of the cir- 
cus?” 

The barker bowed deeply. "No, no. Great Kamera. If I may 
repeat — ” 

"No!” Kamera held up his hand. "Not that. What shows has 
he?” 

"There will be Jeda, Hero and Great Emperor of all the horse- 
men, riding Hamid’s own quartet of white stallions; there will be 
the Flying Javettes, featuring Tessia and the quintuple somer- 
sault; then, the Rhume Family and its Great Phant Lizards, 
featuring Mamoot and — ” 

"Barker. Phant lizards?” 

"A great-beast act, great Kamera, with fierce monsters whipped 
and driven from the swamps of Arcadia, tamed and trained by a 
small boy, who — ” 

"Go on. What else?” 

"The Great Riettas of the high wire will dazzle the crowds with 
its four-tiered pyramid. Yarouze, the brave lion tamer, will put on 
a spectacle of daring — ” 

"Barker, I’ve never heard of any of these names. Who are these 
people who pretend to bring a circus into being?” Kamera rubbed 
his bald head and thought for a moment. "In fact, I do not re- 
member ever seeing a high-wire act before in my life. Nor flyers. 


114 


PROUD RIDER 



not even those lizards. Is this some kind of joke?” 

"Upon my life, Great Kamera. The acts assemble now in the 
Great Ring.” 

"Koolis undoubtedly knows of this.” 

"Yes, of course. The Master of the Great Ring has paid ten 
thousand movills for the privilege of exhibiting Hamid’s Greater 
Shows.” 

"Koolis paid for the privilege, you say?” 

"I arranged the contract myself.” 

Kamera rubbed his chin. "Koolis parting with coopers can only 
mean he sees a greater amount returning.” 

"It is the truth. Great Kamera. For his payment, Koolis will get 
a quarter of the gate.” 

"And, barker, I suppose Hamid, whoever he is, is looking for 
clowns, is he?” 

"A circus is the proper setting for a clown. Great Kamera. Do I 
not speak truly?” 

Kamera nodded. Years ago he had played a circus; a poor thing 
at one of the last fairs ever held. It had been better; almost a 
spiritual experience. "I make a good — no, an excellent living play- 
ing by myself here at the square in Tarzak. What would this 
Hamid pay if I condescended to lend my name and talents to his 
bill?” 

The barker grinned and shook his head. "The Great Kamera 
does not understand. Because you are master clown of Momus, 
Great Hamid will allow you billing for only one thousand 
movills.” 

"I must pay to perform?” 

"Yes.” 

"That is nonsense! You said yourself, I am master clown of 
Momus!” 

"True, true. Great Kamera.” The barker rubbed his hands to- 
gether. "But, the star clown of Hamid’s Greater Shows will be 
master clown of Momus.” 

Kamera nodded. "I see. Was Koolis swayed with similar logic?” 

"Great Koolis also gets a quarter of the gate. You, Great Kam- 
era, will get half of one percent for your coppers.” 

"And Koolis gets twenty-five by paying ten?” 

"Koolis also has the ring.” 

"Hmmm.” Kamera reached under his table and pulled a purse 
from beneath it, dropping the pouch in front of the barker. "Be- 
fore you lift those coppers, satisfy me on a point.” 


PROUD RIDER 


115 



"If I can, Great Kamera.” 

"The circuses died on Momus for lack of an audience. Has this 
Hamid found an answer?” 

The barker shrugged. "Great Kamera, when I asked this same 
question of the Great Hamid, his answer was cr3q)tic.” 

"He does not depend on the soldiers, does he? Allenby will not 
allow them on the planet.” 

"He only looked up. Great Kamera, and said 'an audience shall 
be provided.’ ” 

Koolis looked down at the old man sitting on the low stone 
wall surrounding the Great Ring. Hamid stared at the sawdust. 
The Master of the Ring looked at Jeda and Davvik, shrugged, and 
tried again. "Hamid, I not only talked to Disus, but to Great Al- 
lenby himself. He will not be moved; the soldiers stay in the satel- 
lites.” 

Hamid moved only his lips. "Did Allenby see the parade?” 

Koolis let out a sigh. "It makes no difference.” 

"If Allenby saw the parade, he could not deny the circus life.” 

"Hamid, Allenby’s concerns emcompass the entire planet of 
Momus. The circus is not his entire world, as it is with us.” 

"Us?” 

Koolis looked offended. "Yes, us.” 

"If the circus dies, Koolis, you will still have the Great Ring. 
We will have nothing.” 

Koolis spat in the sawdust. "Hamid, you know nothing. I’ve 
beggered my family to give your circus a place to exist.” 

"For a quarter of the gate.” 

"Without an audience coming through that gate, it is twenty- 
five percent of nothing.” Koolis slapped his hands against his legs. 
"Without the soldiers, your circus — my ring — will be lost. It is my 
world, too, Hamid!” 

The old man looked up and nodded. "I owe you an apology, 
Koolis.” He reached for his purse, then shrugged. "But I owe 
many people for many things.” 

Koolis smiled and sat next to the old rider, patting him on the 
knee. "I’ll put it on your account.” 

Hamid looked from Koolis to his son. "Well, Jeda, say it.” 

Jeda lifted an arm, then lowered it. "There are no coppers. 
Father. I see no other way.” 

The old man turned to the logger. "Well, Davvik, you get your 
way. The horses are yours.” 


116 


PROUD RIDER 



Davvik looked at his own feet, then shook his head. "This is not 
what I want, Hamid. Believe me, I would rather you could keep 
them.” He nodded his head at the great lizards being trained on 
the far side of the Ring, then up where roustabouts strung sup- 
ports for the high wire and trapeze. "But neither my wishes nor 
yours will feed your flyers or beasts.” 

Hamid nodded. "Take care of them, Davvik.” 

Jeda walked to Hamid and placed a gentle hand on the old 
man’s shoulder. "I will be there. Father. I’ll watch them.” 

The old man looked up into his son’s face. "You go with Dav- 
vik?” 

Jeda nodded. "I’m a rider, and yoim circus has no horses.” 

"I will pay him well, Hamid.” Davvik put his arm around Jeda’s 
shoulders. "And if you can get your show going, I’ll sell you back 
the horses.” 

"Thank you, Davvik.” 

The logger nodded, then turned to Jeda. "We must go, then.” 

"Goodbye, Father.” 

Hamid put his hand over his son’s, pressed it and nodded, his 
eyes closed. He felt the hand leave his shoulder and listened as 
the two left the Ring. 

Koolis shook his head. "After we sprinkle a few movills on our 
creditors, Davvik’s coppers might keep us going another month — 
perhaps less. What then?” 

"My mind is as empty as my purse, Koolis. . . .” The old man 
looked up and saw a roustabout on the high-wire platform playing 
at stepping out on the wire. The man stumbled, but quickly 
caught the post behind the platform. Koolis stood and cupped his 
hands around his mouth. 

"Break your neck, fool, and you pay your own furneral.” 

Koolis turned to see Hamid hobbling off on his crutches. 
"Hurry, Koolis; assemble the company. Hurry!” 

Master Sergeant Levee scanned the indicators and adjusted a 
control with a feather touch. As the huge machine chewed 
through the blue-green sulphide vein, an extra drop of oil fell into 
the crushers dispersing a slight foam accumulation. "You got to 
keep your eye on that, Balis. Too much foam can really gum up 
the works.” 

"I apologize. Sergeant.” Balis’s hand left the control and 
reached for the purse beneath his lavender-and-white juggler’s 
robe. 


PROUD RIDER 


117 



"Get back on that control!” Levee shook his head as the jug- 
gler’s hand sped back to the steering buttons. "Look, Balis, I 
thought we had a deal; you don’t pay me every time you make a 
mistake. Just don’t make it again.” 

"Yes, Sergeant. I got confused.” 

Levee caressed the cab frame he was using for support and pat- 
ted it. "You’ll get the hang of it. In another two weeks, the Mon- 
tagnes will be back up in the satellites and you boys will be 
operating the pit.” 

Balis scanned the controls, indicators and progress track. "We 
are on the straight. Sergeant.” 

"Good. You can put it on automatic.” 

Balis flipped a switch, leaned back in his seat and sighed. "It 
seems so much to learn in two weeks.” 

"A little more involved than tossing around a few balls, eh 
Balis?” The juggler smiled, reached into his robe and produced 
four red spheres. Levee took them, sighed, and moved to the back 
of the cab for the additional headroom. A look of determination on 
his face, the sergeant made sure of his footing, fixed his eyes on 
the imaginary high point of the trajectory and began pitching the 
balls. His hands moved with a steady rhythm keeping no less 
than two balls in the air at once. 

"Now, Sergeant, one hand!” Levee threw three complete cycles 
one-handed before he broke rhythm, dropping the balls. Balis 
laughed. "You’ll get the hang of it.” 

Levee gathered up the balls and handed them to Balis. "Here.” 

"Keep them, Sergeant. I brought them for you.” 

Levee nodded. "Only to pay for your apologies, of course.” 

"Of course.” Balis smiled. "I will miss you when the Montagnes 
return to the satellites.” 

Levee opened his utility bag and put the balls in it. Standing 
again, he nodded at the juggler. "Well, the Montague must follow 
its orders.” Levee slapped Balis on the shoulder. "But this does 
not mean we shall never see each other again. A detail will be 
down every few weeks to do maintenance.” 

"Still ...” 

"It’s been awhile. You better check the indicators.” Levee 
turned and looked through the dusty sideport at the pit. A 
kilometer across and eight hundred meters deep at its lowest 
point, the pit resembled a great, stepped bowl. On each step a line 
of huge processors, connected by water, slurry, and power ducts, 
chewed their way around the bowl, widening it and producing 


118 


PROUD RIDER 



copper, silver, iron, and arsenic for the satellite defense rings and 
orbiting bases of the military mission. 

A movement in the pit caught his eye, and Levee reached to the 
console in front of Balis and slammed an orange panel. Power to 
the processors stopped. "Sergeant, what is it?” 

"Something in the pit. Call it in.” As Balis radioed pit control. 
Levee undogged the side door and stepped out on the catwalk. Far 
to his right, an enormous green animal was leaping down the 
steps of the pit. In a matter of seconds, it reached the bottom and 
began swimming the evil-smelling slurry pond. "Balis! Come out 
here and bring the monocular.” As Balis came through the door. 
Levee took the monocular and focused on the animal in the pond. 
"Lookit that! Balis, I swear you can have my stripes if I’ve ever 
seen an5dhing like that!” 

Balis squinted against the sun. "It is one of the great lizards of 
Arcadia, Sergeant. I’ve never seen one out here on the desert so 
close to Kuumic.” 

"It’s pulling something.” Levee played the monocular back 
along the path the lizard had taken. "It looks like a cable or a 
rope. Look, at the top of the rim.” 

Balis took the monocular and focused on the rim. A crowd was 
gathered, watching the lizard. The other end of the rope appeared 
to be anchored to a high pole on the edge of the rim. Balis turned. 
On the opposite edge of the pit, another crowd was gathered. The 
lizard, having traversed the slurry pond, leaped up the steps to 
the left, still dragging the rope. As the animal disappeared over 
the opposite rim, the slack in the rope was taken up. Levee took 
the monocular and saw the rope being anchored to another high 
post. A figure climbed the post and stood on top, waving to the 
crowd. From where he stood. Levee could hear the cheers. The fig- 
ure was handed a long, white pole. Balancing the pole across the 
rope, the figure began walking out over the pit. In moments the 
figure had only air between a swaying, narrow path and certain 
death. Levee switched to a higher powered lens and saw that the 
figure was a man; an old man. "Balis, who is that?” 

"Sergeant, that is Great Tara of the high-wire Riettas. He is 
enough to make one’s heart stop.” 

"He’s so old.” Balis watched Levee move and shift as the Mon- 
tagne Sergeant walked the rope vicariously with the Great Tara. 
As he reached the center of the rope, the wind across the pit 
picked up and snatched at the old man’s yellow robe. Levee held 
his breath as the old man sat down on the rope and leaned his 

119 


PROUD RIDER 



pole into the wind. The wind gone, the old man did a backwards 
somersault on the rope, coming up to his feet again. He teetered 
for an instant, then resumed his walk above the pit. Lifetimes 
later, the Great Tara stood atop the anchor pole on the other side 
of the pit. At both ends of the rope a cheer went up, accompanied 
by signs, each one a letter, spelling HAMID’S GREATER 
SHOWS — TARZAK. Then the crowd was gone. Levee looked 
at Balls, confused. "They were all with that circus.” 

"Yes.” 

"But between Montagnes and trainees, there can’t be more than 
twenty people here in the pit.” 

"True, Sergeant, but I heard that Tara put on a spectacle yes- 
terday at the microwave relay station by climbing one of the guy 
wires supporting the broadcast antenna. There were only eight 
soldiers at the station.” 

Levee shook his head. "I don’t know much about advertising. 
Balls, but it seems they’re going about it the wrong way. Soldiers 
aren’t even allowed planetside.” Levee played the monocular 
along the rope, watching it sway in the wind. "But I sure wish I 
could see that show.” 

• Balls smiled, entered the cab and pulled some flyers from his 
robe. In seconds he had them stuffed into Levee’s utility bag. 

Captain Bostany knew the perspiration running down her back 
was imaginary, but as she stood at strict attention before General 
Kahn, while he traced little circles on his command desk with a 
wicked-looking swagger stick, she swore her boots were filled to 
overflowing. 

Kahn dropped the stick on his desk with a clatter, folded his 
hands and pursed his lips. "Let’s try it one more time. Captain, 
shall we?” 

"I ... I await the general’s pleasure.” 

Kahn pressed a panel on his desk causing the bulkhead behind 
him to part, disclosing an activated holographic command reader. 
"You know what this is I suppose?” 

"Yessir.” 

Kahn smiled. "That will save some time. Captain, as you can 
see, the Ninth Quadrant Federation has enough hardware in orbit 
around Momus to destroy utterly any kind of force the Tenth Fed- 
eration cares to send against us,” the General held up a finger, 
"if, I repeat, if everything is functioning smoothly. With me?” 

"Yessir.” 


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Kahn picked up a sheaf of papers from his desk. "These are 
summary courts’ records, Captain. As mission sociological officer, 
you will be interested to know that the Momus military mission 
has the worst petty disciplinary rate in the sector.” 

"Yessir.” 

"Captain, that includes the Quadrant bases around all three 
penal colonies!” 

"Yessir.” 

"Captain, the men and women manning this mission are Mon- 
tagnes, the most professionally disciplined soldiers in the Quad- 
rant forces. This cannot go on. First, I want you to tell me why, 
then I want to know what you are going to do about it.” 

"Yessir. The positive soc — ” 

"So help me. Captain, if you start talking sociological parame- 
ters, biofeed responses, or negative poop loops again, I will eat 
your head off!” 

"Well, General, it’s a combination of things — that caused the 
disciplinary problems, that is. The analysis just completed. . . ” 

"Skip that and get to what it is.” 

". . . ah, yessir. Well, sir, to be overly simplistic about it . . .” 

"Impossible.” 

". . .yessir. Well, sir, it’s what we call acute environmental 
awareness.” 

"That’s what you call it; what would I call it?” 

"Cabin fever?” 

"Go on.” 

"Well, sir, it’s just that the isolation from the planet’s surface is 
beginning to have neg — ah, well, sir, it’s beginning to get to the 
troops.” 

"Now, Captain, we are at a point we could have reached an hour 
ago. Cabin fever, huh?” 

"Yessir.” 

"I can think of maybe twenty military missions offhand that are 
similarly isolated for political reasons, environmental conditions, 
any number of reasons.” The General waved the stack of papers. 
"None of them has this problem.” 

"Yessir, I mean, nossir. Everyone brought up on charges so far 
has undergone analysis to determine the soc — uh, to see if there is 
a common cause. Using that information, my department con- 
ducted additional surveys and found that the pattern extends to 
dependent families and civilian employees.” 

"And?” 


PROUD RIDER 


121 



"Well, sir, it’s probably a lot more complicated than it sounds. 
Doctor Graver, the chief of psych, says that it’s probably 
symobolic for — ” 

"What is it. Captain?” 

"Sir, uh . . . the personnel, they . . . want to go and see the cir- 
cus.” 

"Circus.” 

"Yessir.” 

Kahn studied an empty spot in the air until Captain Bostany 
had to break the silence or run screaming from the compartment. 
"Sir, we traced the information about the circus to the crews 
operating the relay station, the open-pit mine operations. . . ” 

"Momus doesn’t even have a circus.” 

Bostany reached into a folder and placed some papers in front of 
the General. "We obtained these from the crews rotating from 
planetside.” 

Kahn studied the flyers and shook his head. "Captain, would 
you tell me why men, women, and children who have at their dis- 
posal a variety of the most sophisticated recreational facilities 
known to modern science, want to go see a circus?” 

"Yessir,” Bostany smiled and pulled a bound set of papers from 
her folder. "I’m writing a paper on it.” 

"Just why, Captain.” 

"Yessir. Outside of actual sports activities, virtually all of our 
recreations are remote sensory. There is an unreality about them 
that leaves unfulfilled certain needs.” 

"Unreality? Captain, have you ever used a fantasizer? You can 
climb the Matterhorn if you want, and even be frostbitten.” 

"Yessir. But, before and after the experience, you know that the 
experience never was and that no challenge existed. Doctor 
Graver agrees with me that this phenomenon is actually a reach 
for reality.” 

Kahn held up a flyer depicting a huge lizard in pink tights and 
tassels, holding a small, turban-wrapped boy high over its head 
with one hand. "You call this reality?” 

"That’s what it seems to represent to the personnel.” 

Kahn looked at the flyer and nodded. "I guess it is, for Momus.” 
He looked up. "Your recommendation?” 

"General, we have to let mission personnel get in some time 
planetside on a regular basis to see the circus, go backpacking, or 
just walk around and breathe fresh air.” 

"You have another plan? Allenby would kill that one in a 


122 


PROUD RIDER 



second, and you know why.” 

"No other plan that is practical. Either get them planetside or 
replace the entire complement. We ran the sociological progres- 
sions, and visiting planetside on a rotating basis would have no 
adverse impact. The impact Lord Allenby fears happens only if 
the mission uses planetside bases.” 

"Your department checked out the fortune teller’s story, then?” 

"Yessir; and her accuracy is uncanny, except for this. Her rec- 
ommendation was complete separation. It’s strange that she could 
be so accurate with one and miss so badly on the other. But, she’s 
hardly a computer.” 

Kahn snorted out a short laugh. "Tayla the fortune teller has 
Allenby’s ear; your computer doesn’t.” Kahn reached for the com- 
municator built into his desk. "Get me Ambassador Hum- 
phries.” He tiu-ned back to Bostany. "Put together the best case 
you can. Captain. You are about to meet the cashiered former 
Ambassador and present Statesman of Momus, Great Allenby, 
magician and newsteller.” Kahn shrugged. "Part of that reality 
we’re reaching for, I imagine.” 

While Captain Bostany explained her sociological progression 
tables, charts and diagrams, Allenby looked at the people seated 
on cushions around his table. Ambassador Humphries, as usual, 
scowled impatiently. Seated next to the Ambassador, General 
Kahn remained properly impassive. Across from Allenby, Hamid 
of the Miira riders looked at the center of the table, seeing noth- 
ing. Next to Hamid, Tayla the fortune teller watched Bostany’s 
performance through hooded eyes. Bostany collected her papers 
and concluded: "Therefore, Lord Allenby, while the complete sep- 
aration protects Momus from undesirable socio-impact, it is 
having an undesirable impact on the military mission. As I have 
repeated, my department has determined that there will be no 
adverse impacts as a result of limited interaction between — ” 

"No!” Tayla held up her hands, palms toward Allenby. "I have 
seen what will be and what can be. Great Allenby. I say that the 
soldiers must stay in the sky.” 

Allenby shrugged. "Then, Ambassador Humphries, that is my 
answer. The mission personnel remain off planet.” 

"Lord Allenby; be reasonable, man. Captain Bostany is more 
than qualified to determine whether or not there will be problems 
from limited contact. She has the command of the latest comput- 
erized investigation tools. Against this, you would take the word 

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of a spiritualist?” 

"Humphries, from birth Tayla has been trained to absorb in- 
formation, associate it, weigh probabilities, and project outcomes 
given a certain set of circumstances. There is nothing spiritual 
about it. She couldn’t tell you how she arrives at a particular con- 
clusion, but I can tell you the conclusions are accurate. I think 
the general can support what I say.” 

Kahn nodded. "I saw Tayla observe our original occupation and 
defense plan of Momus, then point by point list the sociological 
results. This has since been verified by Captain Bostany — that is, 
except the need for complete separation, as I think she has 
shown.” 

Allenby nodded at Bostany. "Captain, I do not doubt your qual- 
ifications. However, a skilled fortune teller can do an5dhing your 
computers can do, and a lot faster. In addition, Tayla knows 
Momus. There must be a factor, some seemingly unimportant fact, 
you failed to include. Mission personnel will not come planetside.” 

"Great Allenby.” He turned to see Hamid looking at him 
through hazy blue eyes. The old rider’s face was tired as death. 
"Great Allenby, I beg you. If the soldiers do not come down, the 
circus will die. We have been open now for only three nights, and 
already .the tiers at the Great Ring are half-filled. The main at- 
tractions cannot continue without the soldiers.” 

"You have heard Tayla speak. Can I sacrifice the way _pf an en- 
tire planet’s life for the sake of a few attractions?” 

"I would ask Great Tayla a question.” Hamid turned to the for- 
tune teller. "Great Tayla, how is it that a few soldiers visiting my 
circus will destroy us when the ancestors of Momus, the old cir- 
cus, traveled among worlds of strangers for many centuries?” 

Tayla closed her eyes. "I see what I see.” 

Allenby stood. "Then, if there is nothing else?” 

Hamid pulled himself along on his crutches until he stood in 
the light coming from the Great Ring. Still outside the spectators’ 
entrance, he could not bring himself to enter. Moving to the side 
to stand alone in the dark, the old man listened to the music com- 
ing from within. He watched the pitifully few customers walking 
up and down the midway, peeking into the stalls and tents, read- 
ing the signs and listening to the barkers. The side attractions 
were falling off as well. But, thought Hamid, it is nothing to 
them. When the circus dies, they will play the squares and fires 
as before. But for us . . . He stood back in the entrance and for a 


124 


PROUD RIDER 



moment watched Tessia and her parents high above the sawdust. 
He turned away. For us there will be no tomorrow. As a cheer 
erupted from the Ring, Hamid lifted his eyes to see a fortune 
teller’s stall. Inside, a lone woman in the blue robe sat playing 
solitaire, unmindful of the noise and music. Hamid thought, shook 
his head, and thought again. It was so simple. Smacking his head, 
he hobbled off in the darkness. 

"Great Tayla.” Hamid nodded his head. 

The old fortune teller squinted at him from her place at her ta- 
ble, then nodded. "Enter, Hamid. Be seated.” The old man hobbled 
into the dark room, propped his crutches against the wall and 
lowered himself to the single cushion before Tayla’s table. On the 
table, a single oil lamp illuminated the room. "What brings you?” 

"It is your greatness that brings me.” 

She read the old man’s eyes, disliking what she saw there. "Be 
clear, old rider.” 

Hamid nodded. "The captain fortune teller of the soldiers does 
not understand. I did not either.” 

"Understand?” 

"Great Allenby spoke truly when he said you could do anything 
the captain’s machines could do, and at greater speed.” Hamid 
grinned. "But, our Statesman did not honor you enough.” 

"Get on with what you have come to say, Hamid.” 

"Great Tayla, you can do something the captain’s machines 
cannot.” 

"Which is?” 

"You can lie.” 

Tayla’s face froze. "I told what I saw. All those soldiers and 
others here on Momus, they would absorb us. We, our way of life, 
would cease to be. It is the truth!” 

Hamid nodded. "As much of it as is told. But the bases, all 
those soldiers, live up in the orbiting bases and stations. Our way 
of life is safe from them.” 

"No!” Tayla shook her head. "They must stay there; We can be 
safe only if they stay off Momus — all of them.” 

Hamid rubbed his chin. "Tayla, what did you see of the circus, 
if the soldiers only visited? You saw the circus born again, didn’t 
you?” 

Tayla closed her eyes. "I am tired, Hamid. Leave me.” 

"You saw it born again.” 

"Yes!” Tayla flinched at the loudness of her own voice. "Yes, 
PROUD RIDER 125 



but that only among other things ...” 

"You saw riders, high-wire walkers, flyers, great beast and 
jungle acts standing where they have not been for many years; 
center ring, main attractions . . .” 

"Hamid, there is more.” 

"Yes, you saw more, Tayla. You saw fortune tellers tucked 
away in a little stall off the midway — sideshows, reading palms 
and leaves, telling the rubes what they would like to hear.” 

The old woman’s eyes brimmed with tears. "Old man, Allenby 
will listen only to what I say.” 

"What if I took this to your daughter Salina? She is respected. 
What would her visions be? What if I took this to all the great 
fortune tellers on Momus? Allenby will not believe the captain, 
but would he believe ten, fifty, or a hundred fortune tellers?” 

"They will see the same things I saw.” 

The old man shrugged. "Perhaps not. They are younger; 
perhaps they will be able to see beyond a vision of a sideshow.” 

Tayla laughed. "What can you tell me about what they would 
see, old rider?” 

"I think they would see that fortune telling has changed since 
the days Momus was first settled. Riders, flyers, trainers, are the 
same as we were. But fortune telling has changed. It has grown. 
Great men and women of business come and sit before your table 
to hear the future and make their plans. You have outgrown the 
circus. I think they will see that.” 

The old woman frowned, then reached beneath her table and 
withdrew a clear glass sphere. She placed it on the table and ad- 
justed the oil lamp. She sat for only a moment, staring deep 
within the glass, then closed her eyes and nodded. "I did not look 
beyond that vision. Understand my loyalty to the fortune tellers, 
Hamid. I saw this, and — ” 

"And lied!” Hamid gripped the edge of the table and pushed 
himself to his feet. He took his crutches, placed them under his 
arms and turned toward Tayla. "You will tell Allenby?” 

Tayla looked into the old man’s angry face. "Yes, I will tell 
him.” Hamid hobbled toward the door. "Hamid?” 

He turned to face her. "Yes?” 

"I am ashamed. But tonight in Great Allenby’s quarters, I saw 
an old cripple prepared to destroy an entire people, just to put his 
son on a horse. Is my shame any greater than his?” 

Hamid looked at the old woman, then bowed his head. "No, 
Great Tayla. You see better into my own heart than I do.” 

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"It is my trade.” 

Hamid looked at her and smiled. "Do I owe you for this visit?” 

The old woman smiled and shook her head. "No Hamid; I think 
we are even. Must you go?” 

Hamid laughed. "Yes. I must see a man about a horse.” 

Allenby bid Koolis, Master of the Ring, goodbye and turned his 
attention to the tiers packed with Montagne soldiers, civilians 
and, best of all, hordes of excited, wide-eyed children. The Ring 
stood brightly in the glow of eight searchlights General Kahn 
supplied to replace the rows of oil lamps, while from the 
bandstand, the musicians delivered a lusty march in preparation 
for the Great Parade. Disus, Allenby’s chief-of-staff, walked up 
and stood beside him next to the Ring. "A marvelous spectacle, is 
it not?” 

Allenby nodded. "The man behind this, however, is the real 
marvel. Koolis told me that Hamid began this without a movill in 
his purse; yet look at the acts he has assembled and the audience 
he has attracted.” 

Disus shrugged and waved an idle hand at the soldiers. "If 
Hamid cannot go to the Montagne . . .” 

"Don’t finish that if you value your life. See to our seats.” Grin- 
ning, Disus bowed and went off to negotiate for seating space. 

Opposite the entrance, high on the last tier, an old man leaned 
on a crutch and surveyed the amphitheater. Before the night’s 
show, Koolis had stood before him shaking his head. "Every last 
percentage of the gate has been exchanged for acts, food, mate- 
rials, and supplies. I keep the accounts, Hamid. No matter the 
success; you will not find youself a movill richer.” 

"I have my reward, Koolis,” he had said. 

The Master of the Ring shrugged and shook his head. "A high 
price to pay for sentiment, my friend.” 

"It is not sentiment.” 

"What then is your reward? I do not understand.” Koolis left, 
shaking his head and fondling his fat purse. 

As the Great Parade began, the old man leaned forward to see 
four brothers in silver-spangled tights mounted on four gleaming 
white stallions enter the Ring at the head of the parade. Four 
brothers — whose sons and daughters will ride, and all their sons 
and daughters after them, 

"Yes, Koolis,” the old man whispered, "my fortune is made.” 


PROUD RIDER 


127 



FIT THE CRIME 

by Noah Ward 

art: George Barr 



This, one of the longer entries in 
our horrid-pun contest, appears 
( as well it should) under a 
pseudonym. Mr. Ward is a 
professional in the science 
fiction field whose work 
has appeared in these 
pages before. 


128 



Berns waited for it. He knew it was coming. It came. 

"Hmmm,” Isennao said, fake-musing. "Scratching your ned, 
Head? — sorry, I mean, scratching your head, Ned?” 

"As you see,” Berns said, stopping. A little itch, he could have 
ignored it, but now ... He looked past Isennao’s cropped haircut. 
The dome’s viewport did not reflect the interior lighting, and he 
was able to see the stars, like bright dust. Some of the light that 
now struck through the viewport and across the Earth-normal 
atmosphere of the dome molded to the asteroid had been traveling 
for millions of years; if he kept his mind on that, perhaps he could 
pass the coming trial. . . . 

"It may seem unsympathetic, Ned,” Isennao said with the 
slightly crooked smile Berns had come to dread, "but I have to tell 
you, it gladdens my heart to see you scratching there.” 

Berns sighed. If he stayed mute, refused Isennao’s gambit, he 
would be taking a step toward withdrawal, toward the self- 
isolation that led to what was still called "cabin fever” — the 
madness that grew between two men cooped up together for 
months; if he accepted it, the result would be almost more than he 
could bear. But the Survey Manual was firm on that point; under 
all circumstances, relate', pulling back was more of a no-no than 
even the most violent confrontation. 

"Why is that, Ikei?” 

"Oh — ” Isennao’s smile broadened. " — it’s a site for psoriasis.” 

Berns looked at him blankly for a moment, "What has 
that . . . oh. Oh.” He drew a long breath between clenched teeth. 
He wondered why Isennao was not drawing back from him in 
fear; surely, from the way he felt, his face must be dangerously 
purple, his eyes bulging, and that big vein in his temple visibly 
pulsating .... Probably the blood of Ikei’s samurai ancestors had 
imbued him with the stoic code of bushido, forbidding him to 
show fear even in the face of the greatest peril. But there ought to 
be something in bushido against making god-awful puns, espe- 
cially in this setting — two lone humans on a frozen rockball, with 
the immensity and glory of the Galaxy stretching away in every 
direction! 

Berns drew his lips down over his teeth and willed his muscles 
to draw the left side of his mouth, then the right, upwards. He 
made himself say, with a ghastly mimicry of cordiality, "Hey, 
that’s a real ai! ail, isn’t it?” Relate. Relate? To a clown who not 
only was addicted to inflicting cruel and unusual puns — damn! It 
was infecting him, now! — but who had even coined that arch 


FIT THE CRIME 


129 



name for the worst examples out of his own initials? Listen, 
Manual, Berns thought, are you sure about that? A little cabin 
fever might be the best way to get through the last two months 
here. Would it be so bad, slinking silently around, looking at each 
other out of the corners of their eyes, always conscious of the 
nearest tool that might be used for a weapon . . . ? It could beat 
having to listen to Isennao cheapen the Universe with his word- 
play. 

"Say, thanks,” Ikei said. He took a sip of his after-dinner 
"cordial” — a synthesist’s miracle that reproduced precisely the 
taste, aroma and bite of a good brandy with absolutely none of the 
deleterious side effects, such as enjoyment — and went on; "I 
worked up a good one, my last shift outside. I won’t ask you if 
you’ve heard it, because you couldn’t’ve, but it seems there was 
this white dwarf, and a red giant, and a black hole . . .” 

As he listened to his companion deliver the staggeringly 
indecent punch line — silly as well as dirty, Berns thought; pulsars 
and quasars couldn’t do that — he closed his eyes against the vista 
of the stars. Isennao’s loathsome joke seemed to have coated them 
with slime. 

Would it be relating, he wondered, if I reached over, grabbed his 
ears and slammed his face on the table over and over again 
— bam, then crunch, then squish . . . ? 

He held the picture wistfully for a few seconds, theij pushed his 
chair back from the table and stood. "I think I’ll suit up, step 
outside,” he said. 

Isennao looked at him. "How come? You aren’t on shift ’til 
morning.” The blocky asteroid — Isennao had insisted, Burns could 
not gather why, on christening it Prudential — had no perceptible 
rotation, but of necessity they used standard time in setting out 
the work shifts and meals. 

"It’s such a nice goddamn night I thought I’d take a goddamn 
walkl” Berns said, and stormed into the suiting chamber. 

Out on the airless surface, he became calmer. It was a nice 
night, if you wanted to look at it like that . . . eternal and infinite 
night. The jagged horizon fell away from him on all sides, so that 
he seemed almost to be on a mountaintop, the rich ocean of stars 
surrounding him, clots of light here, a thinner powdering there; 
with no distorting atmosphere to mask them, they seemed to fill 
every square centimeter of his view. An apparent dark space as 
big as his thumb filled with motes of brightness as his eyes 

130 


FIT THE CRIME 



adjusted to the absence of the dome lighting. There was infinity, 
written across the heavens, a statement of the incomprehensible 
grandeur of existence, the challenge that drew men to sail the 
seas of space on the ultimate adventure .... 

And he was sharing that adventure with a clod who could think 
of nothing better to do than contrive excruciating puns and 
dreadful jokes. 

With some difficulty, he lowered his suited form to a protruding 
rock, and sat and brooded. It had all seemed to make sense, 
months before, when the Survey picked him and Ikei for the job. 

"You two complement each other,” Colonel Clark had said. 
"People too much alike, they’d get on each other’s nerves in six 
months. But this setup, you’ll have a resident comic to cheer you 
up and Isennao’ll always have a straight man.” 

"You couldn’t consider sending a gay one?” Isennao had said. 

Berns grimaced as he remembered that he had actually laughed 
at the coarse quip. 

A patch of stars gleamed at him, reflected in a patch of 
ammonia ice, reminding hirn of why they were there. How it was 
that Prudential had retained, or acquired, the frozen lakes that 
covered so much of its surface, had completely baffled the 
Survey’s scientists. If the asteroid were the remnant of a 
planetary breakup, most of its original atmosphere should have 
vanished millions of years ago. If it hadn’t, why not? Or if it had 
drawn the substance to itself in its wanderings through space 
. . . that called for investigation, too. Hence his and Isennao’s 
six-month tour of duty and "daily” schedule of analysis and 
testing. 

Berns did not flatter himself that he was capable of interpreting 
either the function of the tests or their results; he and Ikei were 
well-trained technicians carrying out instructions and compiling 
the data, and others would have the work, and the glory, of 
making any discoveries. But the Earthbound scientists who would 
sift and interpret what they brought back would have missed the 
real glory, that of being out here, alone with the sea of light. 
Maybe, if anything came of this, there’d be a fragment of 
Prudential, a piece of the rock, on display in the giant Museum of 
Man in Chillicothe, and on the placard underneath it, some brief 
mention of Ned Berns and Ikei Isennao .... 

And if there ever were, Ikei would ruin it utterly with some 
crass joke. Berns grimaced, then looked up again at the stars and 
slowly nodded. All right, there was just no point in letting the 

131 


FIT THE CRIME 



mess drag on. He hated the idea of confronting Isennao, but it 
was either that or go crazy. 

Isennao, still seated, looked up as Berns strode into the dome’s 
living quarters, stood over him and slammed his open hand onto 
the table. "Ikei ...” 

"That a vote to table the motion?” 

"Ikei!” 

"Not one of my best, OK . . . .” 

"Maybe not,” Berns said grimly, "but it’s your last.” 

"Say what?” 

Isennao listened thoughtfully to Berns’s explanation that his, 
Isennao’s, puns were a) an abomination against the solemnity of 
their location and the gravity of their mission as the cutting edge 
of human knowledge on the frontiers of space, and b) were driving 
him, Berns, buggy. 

"I kind of thought you enjoyed them, in your own square way,” 
Isennao said mournfully. "I had no idea you were constantly doing 
slow burns, Ned — sorry!” He beld up a hand as Berns glared and 
made a half-step toward him. 

"So all right,” Isennao said. "You think I’m spitting all over 
your damn stars. Well . . . mayhe I am, come to think of it. You 
may think it’s just great to be way the hell out here and 
commune with the Infinite, but I can tell you sometimes it scares 
me silly. I feel all the time as if this hunk of rock could melt out 
from under me, or I could just drift off it, or some big old space 
whale that nobody’s come across yet could come by and gollup me 
up. I mean, out here. Earth’s nothing, and we’re less than 
nothing. When I look up, it looks like I could touch a million stars 
bigger than Sol, and you better believe it doesn’t make me feel 
exalted. So, yeah, I make my jokes and puns — they’re mine, they 
come out of me, they’re my own personal atmosphere I carry 
around with me, and they by God keep me alive and sane! I 
appreciate how you feel, Ned, but I don’t think you’ve got enough 
of an argument to convince me.” 

"If you make one more pun,” Berns said slowly, "I will kill 
you.” 

"Now that’s an argument. But you wouldn’t . . .” Isennao looked 
up at Berns’s set face. "Let me put that another way: you would, 
wouldn’t you?” 

Berns nodded. 

"I see your point. But what the hell do you expect me to do to 
132 


FIT THE CRIME 



keep going?” 

"Find a hobby.” 

"Bird watching, maybe?” Isennao said scornfully. "That’s the 
. . . huh. Say, I used to be pretty good at . . . Yeah.” 

"What, uh, are you figuring on doing?” Berns said. Reaction to 
the unaccustomed display of rage had left him weak in the knees 
and anxious to return to some sort of civilized footing with his 
companion, to get back to what the Manual demanded: relating. 

Isennao smiled. "It’ll be a surprise. But I think it’ll keep me 
busy enough so I won’t be tempted to upset you — and risk my 
neck — with any more ai! ails.” 

With the strain of bearing with Isennao’s puns and jokes lifted, 
Berns found life tranquil and pleasant in a way he hardly 
remembered. He took a fresh interest in the work, and sensed, to 
his surprise, a touch of regret that it was to be over in a few 
weeks. It seemed to him that he could stay on here, adrift among 
the stars, forever. In their off hours the two men were relaxed and 
mildly cordial, as though, having survived the brief emotional 
storm, they owed each other a wary consideration. 

He was slightly disappointed that Ikei was so secretive about 
his hobby, but he was content to wait for the promised surprise. 
The only clues he had to it were a fresh hole in the nearest 
deposit of ammonia ice, indicating the removal of about a third of 
a cubic meter, and Ikei’s request for a supply of spare gold leaf kept 
on hand for the spectroscopy equipment; he felt no compulsion to 
follow these hints up, and made a point of avoiding the outside 
storage shed where Ikei was working. 

Ten days after Berns’s ultimatum, Ikei’s voice crackled in his 
suit radio. "You just about finished for the day, Ned?” 

"Just D-One to check, then I’m through.” 

"Come on round to the shed then, when you’re done, OK? Got 
something to show you.” 

Berns stopped short as he entered the shed. It glittered like 
crystal in the glare of the worklight, a soaring shape — not a dove, 
not an eagle, but, it seemed to him, the very essence of flight, 
carved with breathtaking skill from a block of ice. It was 
surrounded with a lacy, elongated umbrella of fire, as though a 
golden rocket — or a sun — had exploded at some point above it and 
sent down its fragments trailing glory. He stepped closer and saw 
that it was a half-ovoid of transparent plastic to which the design 
had been applied in gold leaf 


FIT THE CRIME 


133 



"My grandpa taught me woodcarving when I was a kid,” Ikei 
said, "and this was pretty much the same thing. Hell working on 
it with gloves on, though, but if I took it inside, the little bugger’d 
’ve been a smelly puddle in seconds. You like it?” 

Berns nodded slowly, feeling ashamed. How could he have 
dismissed Ikei as a vulgar jester . . . and vaunted himself on his 
own sensitive response to the majesty of space and the glory of 
man’s venture into it? Never could he have created, never even 
conceived, such a heartbreakingly beautiful statement of it — the 
carven figure emblematic of all aspiring and seeking life, the 
golden rain a perfect representation of the riches of the nonliving 
universe within which life moved .... 

"It’s ... I don’t know what to say, Ikei,” he said huskily. 

He looked at Isennao, searching for words that would come near 
to expressing the awe he felt. Through Isennao’s faceplate he 
could see that slightly crooked smile of pleasure that had been 
absent these ten days; then he saw the lips move briefly, as if 
murmuring two short syllables, though no sound came through 
his headphones. 

A smile? Two unvoiced syllables? God almighty, was Ikei say- 
ing ... ? 

Berns turned again to the magnificent sculpture into which 
Isennao had poured the essence of his philosophy and vision, his 
ultimate creation. 

Then he gave a hoarse yell of anguished fury, and reached for a 
heavy wrench that lay on the workbench. 

"It’s not regular, Charley, it’s, you know, messy?” the Curatorial 
Assistant (Clerical) said into the phone. On the visiscreen in front 
of him he watched the ceremony taking place upstairs in the Great 
Hall. 

"This triumph of the human spirit,” Colonel Clark was telling 
the crowd of dignitaries, "comes to us out of the void — not only 
the void of space, but a void of mystery. For we do not know even 
which of those two brave, tragically fated men wrought it. It only 
remains for us to do them, and ourselves, the honor of installing 
it in this great Museum of Man . . . .” 

"The way you do it is, you acquire the thing, you enter it in the 
inventory, and then you put the sucker on display, you see?” 

"... to be preserved here in an environment duplicating that in 
which it was created — a vacuum chamber at near-absolute zero 
that is in essence an enclave of outer space . . .” 

134 FIT THE CRIME 



"Well, Charley, I would like at least to get it entered before the 
speeches get done with and it’s officially on display, that would 
make me feel some better. And to do that, I got to know what it 
is, if that’s no problem to you.” 

"We may ask ourselves what happened on that frozen ball of 
rock so far away. Did a design flaw in Isennao’s faceplate cause it 
to implode with sudden, fatal results? Did Berns, in despair and 
loneliness, open his own helmet to the eternal night . . . ?” 

"That’s a title, not a description, Charley. I mean, you could call 
anything 'Aspiration,’ and if it turned up missing, how would you 
describe it to the cops? Would it be too much trouble to tell me 
what the damn thing is and what it’s made of? OK, thanks.” 

"We may ask ourselves such questions, but we can never know 
the answers. If the story is a darker one — a possibility we cannot 
scout, for the deeps of space do strange things to those who dare 
them — we shall never know the motive behind it . . . .” 

The clerk gave a sigh of relief as he typed the final line on the 
inventory card: 

Ammonia bird, in gilded cage. 


STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP. MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (Act of August 12, 
1970; Section 3685, Title 39, United States Code) 

1. Title of Publication: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. 2. Date of filing: October 1, 
1978. 3. Frequency of issue: Bi-monthly. 4. Location of known Office of Publication: 380 Lexington 
Avenue, New York, NY 10017. 

5- Location of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of the Publishers (not printers): 
380 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017. 

6. Names and Addresses of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Joel Davis, 380 
Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017; Editor: George H. Scithers, 380 Lexington Avenue, 
New York, NY 10017; Managing Editor; (George H. Scithers, 380 Lexington Avenue, New York, 
NY 10017. 

7. Owner: Davis Publications, Inc., 380 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017; Joel Davis, 
380 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017; B. G. Davis Trust. 380 Lexington Avenue, New York, 
NY 10017; Carol Davis Teton, 380 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017. 

8. Known Bondholders. Mortgagees and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent 
or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities: None. 

10. Extent and Nature of Circulation. Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 
Months (A) Total No. Copies Printed (Net Press Run) : 196,265; (B) Paid Circulation: (1) Sales 
Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors and Counter Sales: 66,748; (2) Mail Subscriptions: 
42,095; (C) Total Paid Circulation: 108,843; (D) Free Distribution by Mail, Carrier or Other 
Means. Samples, Complimentary, and Other Free Copies: 0; (E) Total Distribution (Sum of C 
and D): 108,843; (F) Copies Not Distributed; (1) Office Use, Left-Over, Unaccount^, Spoiled 
Alter Printing: 3,680; (2) Returns from News Agents: 83,742; (G) Total (Sum of E and F— 
Should Equal Net Press Run Shown in A) : 196,265 

Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Publish^ Nearest to Filing Date. (A) Total No. Copies 
Printed (Net Press Run): 211,889; (B) Paid Circulation: (1) Sales Through Dealers and Car- 
riers, Street Vendors and Counter Sales: 62,320; (2) Mail Subscriptions: 61,758; (C) Total Paid 
Circulation: 124,078; (D) Free Distribution By Mail, Carrier or Other Means, Samples, Compli- 
mentary, and Other Free Copies: 0; (E) Total Distribution (Sum of C and D) 124,078; (F) 
Copies Not Distributed: (1) Office Use, Left-Over, Unaccount^, Spoiled After Printing: 6,202; 
(2) Returns from News Agents: 81,609; (G) Total (Sum of E and F— Should Equal Net Press 
Run Shown in A) : 211,889. 

I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. 

V. C. Stabile 
Vice President and Treasurer 


FIT THE CRIME 


135 








tsix/xc 

ASIIUOV 

l%ldTHII%IG 

FOR 

l%IOTHII%IG 

art: Jack Gaughan 


137 



Dr. Asimov is currently at work on 
his autobiography, which is turning 
out to be a two-volume work of 
remarkable size and interest. 

The scene was Earth. 

Not that the beings on the Starship thought of it as Earth. To 
them it was a series of symbols stored in a computer; it was the 
third planet of a star located at a certain position with respect to 
the line connecting their home planet with the black hole that 
marked the Galaxy’s center, and moving at a certain velocity with 
reference to it. 

The time was 15,000 B.c., more or less. 

Not that the beings on the Starship thought of it as 15,000 b.c. 
To them, it was a certain period of time marked off according to 
their local system. 

The Captain of the Starship said, rather petulantly, "This is a 
waste of time. The planet is largely frozen. Let us leave.” 

But the Ship’s Explorer quietly said, "No, Captain,” and that 
was that. 

As long as a Starship was in space, or in hyperspace for that 
matter, the Captain was supreme; but place that ship in orbit 
about a planet and the Explorer could not be challenged. He knew 
worlds! That was his specialty. 

And this Explorer was in an impregnable position. He had what 
amounted to a sure instinct for profitable trade. It had been he 
and he alone who was responsible for the fact that this particular 
Starship had won three Awards for Excellence for the work done 
in the three last expeditions. Three for three. 

So when the Explorer said, "No,” the Captain could not dream 
of "Yes.” In the unlikely case that he would have dreamed of it, 
the crew would have mutinied. An Award for Excellence might 
be, to the captain, a pleasant spectral disk to suspend in the main 
salon; but to the crew it meant a spectacular addition to take- 
home pay and an even more welcome addition to vacation time 
and pension benefits. And this Explorer had brought them that 
three times. Three for three. 

The Explorer said, "No strange world should be left un- 
examined.” 

The Captain said, "What is strange about this one?” 

"The preliminary probe shows intelligence, and on a frozen 
world.” 

138 NOTHING FOR NOTHING 



"Surely that’s not unprecedented.” 

"The pattern here is strange.” The Explorer looked uneasy. "I 
am not sure exactly how or exactly why, but the pattern of life 
and of intelligence is strange. We must examine it more care- 
fully.” 

And that was that, of course. There were at least half a trillion 
planetary worlds in the Galaxy, if one only counted those as- 
sociated with stars. Add to that the indefinite number moving in- 
dependently through space and the number might be ten times as 
great. 

Even with computers to help, no Starship could know them all; 
but an experienced Explorer, by dint of lacking interest in any- 
thing else, of studying every exploratory report published, of con- 
sidering endless correlations, and — presumably — playing with 
statistics even in his sleep, grew to have what seemed to others a 
mystical intuition about such things. 

"We’ll have to send out probes in full interlocking program,” 
said the Explorer. 

The Captain looked outraged. Full power meant a leisurely 
examination for weeks at enormous expense. 

He said, and it was as much as he could offer in the way of ob- 
jection, "Is that absolutely necessary?” 

"I rather think so,” said the Explorer with the diffidence of one 
who knows his whim is law. 

The probes brought back exactly what the Captain expected, 
and in great detail. An intelligent species rather reminiscent, at 
least as far as superficial appearance went, of the lesser breeds of 
the inner proximal regions of the fifth arm of the Galaxy — not 
quite unusual, but of interest to mentologists, no doubt. 

As yet the intelligent species was only at the first level of 
technology — long, long removed from anything useful. 

The Captain said so, scarcely able to mask his exasperation; but 
the Explorer, leafing through the reports, remained unmoved. He 
said, "Strange!” and asked that the Trader be summoned. 

This was really too much. A successful Captain must never give 
a good Explorer cause for unhappiness but there are limits to ev- 
erything. 

The Captain said, fighting to keep the level of communication 
polite, if not friendly, "To what end. Explorer? What can we ex- 
pect at this level?” 

"They have tools,” said the Explorer thoughtfully. 

NOTHING FOR NOTHING 


139 



"Stone! Bone! Wood! Or this planet’s equivalent of that. And 
that’s all. Surely we can find nothing in that.” 

"And yet there is something strange in the pattern.” 

"May I know what that might he, Explorer?” 

"If I knew what it might be, Captain, it would not be strange, 
and I would not have to find out. Really, Captain, I must insist on 
the Trader.” 

The Trader was as indignant as the Captain was, and had more 
scope to express it. His, after all, was a specialty as deep as that 
of anyone’s on the Starship; even, in his own opinion (and in some 
others’) as deep and as essential as the Explorer’s. 

The Captain might navigate a Starship and the Explorer might 
detect useful civilizations by the most tenuous of signs; but in the 
final clutch, it was the Trader and his team who faced the aliens 
and who plucked out of their minds and culture that which was 
useful and gave in return something they found useful. 

And this was done at great risk. The alien ecology must not be 
disrupted. Alien intelligences must not be harmed, not even to 
save one’s own life. There were good reasons for that on the cos- 
mic scale and Traders were amply rewarded for the risks they 
ran, but why run useless risks. 

The Trader said, "There is nothing there. My interpretation of 
the probe’s data is that we’re dealing with semi-intelligent ani- 
mals. Their usefulness is nil. Their danger is great. We know how 
to deal with truly intelligent aliens, and Trader teams are rarely 
killed by them. Who knows how these animals will react — and 
you know we are not allowed to defend ourselves properly.” 

The Explorer said, "These animals, if they are no more than 
that, have interestingly adapted themselves to the ice. There are 
subtle variations in the pattern here I do not understand, but my 
considered opinion is that they will not be dangerous and that 
they may even be useful. I feel they are worth closer examina- 
tion.” 

"What can be gained from a Stone Age intelligence?” asked the 
Trader. 

"That is for you to find out.” 

The Trader thought grimly: Of course, that is what it comes 
to — for us to find out. 

He knew well the history and purpose of the Starship Expedi- 
tions. There had been a time, a million years before, when there 
had been no Traders, Explorers, or Captains but only ancestral 

140 NOTHING FOR NOTHING 



animals with developing mind and a Stone Age technology — much 
like the animals on the world they were now orbiting. How slow 
the advance, how painfully slow the self-generated progress — 
until the third-level civilization had been reached. Then had come 
the Starships and the chance of cross-fertilization of cultures. 
Then had come progress. 

The Trader said, "With respect. Explorer. I grant your intui- 
tional experience. Will you grant my practical experience, though 
it is less dramatic? There is no way in which anything below a 
third-level civilization can have anything we can use.” 

"That,” said the Explorer, "is a generalization that may or may 
not be true.” 

"With respect. Explorer. It is true. And even if those — those 
semi-animals had something we could use, and I can’t imagine 
what it might be, what can we give them in exchange?” 

The Explorer was silent. 

The Trader went on. "At this level, there is no way in which a 
proto-intelligence can accept an alien stimulation. The men- 
tologists are agreed on that and it is my experience, too. Progress 
must be self-generated until at least the second-level is reached. 
And we must make a return; we can take nothing for nothing.” 

The Captain said, "And that makes sense, of course. By 
stimulating these intelligences to advance, we can harvest them 
again at a later visit.” 

"I don’t care about the reason for it,” said the Trader, impa- 
tiently. "It is part of the tradition of my profession. We do no 
harm under any conditions and we give in return for what we 
take. Here there is nothing we will want to take; and even if we 
find something, there will be nothing that we can give in return. 
— We waste time.” 

The Explorer shook his head. "I ask you to visit some center of 
population. Trader. I will abide by your decision when you re- 
turn.” 

And that was that, too. 

For two days the small Trader module flashed over the surface 
of the planet searching for any evidence of a reasonable level of 
technology. There was none. 

A complete search could take years but was scarcely worth it. It 
was unreasonable to suppose a high level would be hidden. The 
highest technology was always flaunted for it had no enemy. That 
was the universal experience of Traders everywhere. 

NOTHING FOR NOTHING 141 



It was a beautiful planet, half-frozen as it was. White and blue 
and green. Wild and rough and variegated. Crude and untouched. 

But it was not the Trader’s job to deal with beauty and he 
shrugged off such thoughts impatiently. When his crew talked to 
him in such terms, he was short with them. 

He said, "We’ll land here. It seems to be a good-sized concentra- 
tion of the intelligences. We can do no better. 

His Second said, "What can we do with even these. Maestro?” 

"You can record,” said the Trader. "Record the animals, both 
unintelligent and supposedly intelligent, and any artifacts of 
theirs we can find. Make sure the records are thoroughly holo- 
graphic.” 

"We can already see — ” began the Second. 

"We can already see,” said the Trader, "but we must have a rec- 
ord to convince our Explorer out of his dreams or we’ll remain 
here forever.” 

"He is a good Explorer,” said one of the crew. 

"He has been a good Explorer,” said the Trader, "but does that 
mean he will be good forever? His very successes have made him 
accept himself at too high an evaluation, perhaps. So we must 
convince him of reality — if we can.” 

They wore their suits when they emerged from the module. 

The planetary atmosphere would support them; but the feeling 
of exposure to the raw winds of an open planet would discommode 
them, even if the atmosphere and temperature were perfect — 
which they weren’t. The gravity was a touch high, as was the 
light level; but they could bear it. 

The intelligent beings, dressed rather sketchily in the outer 
portions of other animals, retreated reluctantly at their approach 
and watched at a distance. The Trader was relieved at this. Any 
sign of non-belligerence was welcome to those who were not per- 
mitted to defend themselves. 

The Trader and his crew did not try to communicate directly or 
to make friendly gestures. Who knew what gesture might be con- 
sidered friendly by an alien? The Trader set up a mental field, in- 
stead, and saturated it with the vibrations of harmlessness and 
peace and hoped that the mental fields of the creatures were suf- 
ficiently advanced to respond. 

Perhaps they were, for a few crept back and watched motion- 
lessly as though intensely curious. The Trader thought he de- 
tected fugitive thoughts — but that seemed unlikely for first-level 
beings and he did not follow them up. 


142 


NOTHIN. G FOR NOTHING 



Instead, he went stolidly about the business of making holo- 
graphic reproductions of the vegetation, of a herd of blundering 
herbivores that appeared and then, deciding the surroundings 
were dangerous, thundered away. A large animal stood its ground 
for a while, exposing white weapons in a cavity at its fore-end — 
then left. 

The Trader’s crew worked similarly, moving methodically 
across the landscape. 

The call, directly mental, and surcharged with such emotion of 
surprise and awe that the informational content was all but blur- 
red out, came unexpectedly. 

"Maestro! Here! Come quickly!” 

Specific directions were not given. The Trader had to follow the 
beam, which led into a crevice bounded by two rocky out- 
croppings. 

Other members of the crew w'ere converging but the Trader had 
arrived first. 

"What is it?” asked the Trader. 

His Second was standing in the glow of his suit-radiation in a 
deeply hollowed-out portion of the hillside. 

The Trader looked about, "This is a natural hollow, not a 
technological product.” 

"Yes, but look!” 

The Trader looked up and for perhaps five seconds he was lost. 
Then he sent out a strenuous message for all others to stay away. 

He said, "Is this of technological origin?” 

"Yes, Maestro. You can see it is only partly completed.” 

"But by whom?” 

"By those creatures out there. The intelligent ones. I found one 
at work in here. This is his light source; it was burning vegeta- 
tion. These are his tools.” 

"And where is he?” 

"He fled.” 

"Did you actually see him?” 

"I recorded him.” 

The Trader pondered. Then he looked up again. "Have you ever 
seen anything like this?” 

"No, Maestro.” 

"Or heard of anything like this?” 

"No, Maestro.” 

"Astonishing!” 


NOTHING FOR NOTHING 


143 



The Trader showed no signs of wanting to withdraw his eyes, 
and the Second said, softly, "Maestro. What do we do?” 

"Eh?” 

"This will surely win our ship still a fourth Prize.” 

"Surely,” said the Trader, regretfully, "if we could take it.” 

The Second said, hesitantly, "I have already recorded it.” 

"Eh? What is the use of that? We have nothing to give in ex- 
change.” 

"But we have this of theirs. Give them anything in exchange.” 

The Trader said, "What are you saying? They are too primitive 
to accept anything we could give them. It will surely be nearly a 
million years before they could possibly accept suggestions of 
exogenous origin. — We will have to destroy the recording.” 

"But we know, Maestro.” 

"Then we must never talk about it. Our craft has its ethics and 
its traditions. You know that. Nothing for nothing!” 

"Even this?” 

"Even this.” 

The Trader’s sternly implacable set of expression was tinged 
with unbearable sorrow and despite his "Even this” he stood ir- 
resolute. 

The Second sensed that. He said, "Try giving them something. 
Maestro.” 

"Of what use would that be?” 

"Of what harm?” 

The Trader said, "I have prepared a presentation for the entire 
Starship, but I must show it to you first. Explorer — with deep re- 
spect and with apologies for masked thoughts. You were right. 
There was something strange about this planet. Though the in- 
telligences on the planet were barely first level and though their 
technology was primitive in the extreme, they had developed a 
concept we have never had and one that, to my knowledge, we 
have never encountered on any other world.” 

The Captain said, uneasily, "I cannot imagine what it might 
be.” He was quite aware that Traders sometimes overpraised their 
purchases to magnify their own worth. 

The Explorer said nothing. He was the more uneasy of the two. 

The Trader said, "It is a form of visual art.” 

"Playing with color?” asked the Captain. 

"And shape — but to most startling effect.” He had arranged the 
holographic projector. "Observe!” 

144 NOTHING FOR NOTHING 



In the viewing space before them, a herd of animals appeared: 
bulky, shaggy, two-horned, four-legged. They hesitated, then ran, 
dust spurting up beneath their hooves. 

"Ugly objects,” muttered the Captain. 

The holographic recording brought the herd to a halt, clamped 
it down to a still. It magnified; and a single beast filled the view, 
its bulky head lowered, its nostrils distended. 

"Observe this animal,” said the Trader, "and now observe this 
artificial composition of a primitive concoction of oil and colored 
mineral, which we found smeared over the roof of a cave.” 

There it was again! Not quite the animal as holographed — flat, 
but vibrant. 

"What a peculiar similarity,” said the Captain. 

"Not peculiar,” said the Trader. "Deliberate! There were dozens 
of such figures in different poses — of different animals. The 
likenesses were too detailed to be fortuitous. Imagine the boldness 
of the conception — to place colors in pleasing shapes and combina- 
tions, and in such a way as to deceive the eye into thinking it is 
looking at a real object. These organisms have devised an art that 
represents reality. It is representational art, as I suppose we 
might call it. 

"And that’s not all. We found it done in three dimensions also.” 
The Trader produced an array of small figures in grey stone and 
in faintly-yellow bone. "These are clearly intended to represent 
themselves.” 

The Captain seemed stupefied. "Did you see these manufac- 
tured?” 

"No, that I did not. Captain. One of my men saw a planetary 
being smearing color on one of the cave representations, but these 
we found already formed. Still, no other explanation is possible 
than that they were deliberately shaped. These objects could not 
have assumed these shapes by chance processes.” 

The Captain said, "These are curious, but one doesn’t follow the 
motive. Would not holographic techniques serve the purpose 
better — at such times as these are developed, of course?” 

"These primitives have no conception that holography could 
someday be developed and could not wait the million years re- 
quired. Then, too, maybe holography is not better. If you compare 
the representations with the originals you will notice that the 
representations are simplified and distorted in subtle ways de- 
signed to bring certain characteristics into focus. I believe this 
form of art improves on the original in some ways and certainly 

NOTHING FOR NOTHING 145 



has something different to say.” 

The Trader turned to the Explorer. "I stand in awe at your 
abilities. Can you explain how you sensed the uniqueness of this 
intelligence?” 

The Explorer signed a negative. "I did not suspect this at all. It 
is interesting and I see its worth — although I wonder if we could 
ourselves properly control our colors and shapes in order to force 
them into such representational form. Yet this does not match the 
unease within me. — What I wonder is how you came into posses- 
sion of these? What did you give in exchange? It is there I see the 
strangeness lie.” 

"Well,” said the Trader, "in a way you’re right. Quite strange. I 
did not think I could give anything since the organisms are so 
primitive, but this discovery seemed too important to sacrifice 
without some effort. I therefore chose from among the group of be- 
ings who formed these objects one whose mental field seemed 
somewhat more intense than that of the others and attempted to 
transfer to him a gift in exchange.” 

"And succeeded. Of course,” said the Explorer. 

"Yes, I succeeded,” said the Trader happily, failing to notice 
that the Explorer had made a statement and had not asked a 
question. "The beings,” the Trader went on, "kill such animals as 
they represent in color, by throwing long sticks tipped with shar- 
pened stone. These penetrate the hides of the animal, wound and 
weaken them. They can then be killed by the beings who are indi- 
vidually smaller and weaker than the animal they hunt. I pointed 
out that a smaller, stone-tipped stick could be hurled forward 
with greater force and effect and with longer range if a cord 
under tension were used as the mechanism of propulsion.” 

The Explorer said, "Such devices have been encountered among 
primitive intelligences which were, however, far advanced beyond 
these. Paleomentalists call it a bow-and-arrow.” 

The Captain said, "How could the knowledge be absorbed? It 
couldn’t be, at this level of development.” 

"But it was. Unmistakeably. The response of the mental field 
was one of insight at almost unbearable intensity. — Surely you 
do not think I would have taken these art objects, were they 
twenty times as valuable, if I had not been convinced that I had 
made a return? Nothing for nothing. Captain.” 

The Explorer said in a low, despondent voice, "There is the 
strangeness. To accept.” 

The Captain said, "But surely. Trader, we cannot do this. They 
NOTHING FOR NOTHING 


146 



are not ready. We are harming them. They will use the how-and- 
arrow to wound each other and not the beasts alone.” 

The Trader said, "We do not harm them and we did not harm 
them. What they do to each other and where they end as a result, 
a million years from now, is their concern.” 

The Captain and the Trader left to set up the demonstration for 
the Starship’s company, and the Explorer said sadly in the direc- 
tion in which they had gone: "But they accepted. And they 
flourish amid the ice. And in twenty thousand years, it will be 
our concern.” 

He knew they would not believe him, and he despaired. 



ZUGG’S FALL 

by Frederick Longbeard 

Zugg the Informer eyed the sensors through sweat-soaked 
brows. The blackhanders were almost on him. He had sold his in- 
formation honestly, but the blackhanders sought revenge. As 
Zugg made landfall over England, he knew he couldn’t remain 
aloft. Aligning his ship with the River Tyne, Zugg threw on the 
airbrakes and went down. 

As the ship hit the water, its sea anchors failed to extend, 
skipping the craft along the water. Ahead a bridge loomed, and 
Zugg slammed the overcontrol, lifting the ship momentarily from 
the surface, over the bridge, only to smash into a cathedral, bring- 
ing its towers and bells down in a cloud of dust. 

The next morning, Zugg read in the local newspaper, "A Snitch 
In Tyne Staves Shrine.” 


NOTHING FOR NOTHING 


147 



OUTSIDE 

by Keith Davis 

Keith Davis is thirty-one, married 
three years, and has a daughter 
seventeen months old. Born in Ohio, 
he now lives in Spokane, WA, where his 
hobbies are reading, pipe smoking, 
coaching youth sports, and being outdoors. 

This story is his first sale. 

I went Outside for the first time tonight. I was a little afraid at 
first. I’ve never been Outside before. I’ve been in the back yard a 
lot, but that’s not the same thing. It’s a big yard with lots of trees, 
shrubs, and gardens. We have a big high stone wall that goes all 
around the yard. I’ve often wondered what it’s like Outside, but 
the wall is too high for me to climb. 

My older brother has been Outside lots of times. He told me all 
about it and what it was like, but I was still a little scared. 

Mommy helped me get dressed. I was dressed like my brother. 
Mommy said it was the easiest thing. It was just a pair of pants 
and a shirt. Then she drew some lines on my face with a black 
pencil. 

I soon forgot to be afraid when I got caught up in the excite- 
ment. There were all those other kids running around dressed up 
in different costumes. Some of them were pretty good. I felt bad 
that we didn’t have good ones like them. There were ghosts, 
skeletons, vampires, monsters, and so many others that I can’t 
remember them all. Some of them were pretty scary looking, but I 
knew they were really just pretend. 

But the most fun of all was the candy! All I had to do was 
knock on the door and yell, "Trick or Treat.” Then the door would 
open and someone would dump goodies into my sack. Some of the 
people were dressed-up scary, but I knew that was only pretend, 
too. 

Daddy said I couldn’t eat anything until I got back home and he 
looked it all over. He said there’s some crazy people in the world 
who like to hurt little kids by putting poison or sharp things in 
candy. I don’t think that’s very nice. They must be bad people. 

We walked all over the neighborhood. I saw so many things. I 
got tired, but I didn’t want to quit. 


148 



When we finally got back home, Daddy dumped all my candy 
on the table and looked through it. Most of it was okay. He only 
threw a few things away and said something about being on the 
safe side. 

I wanted to eat everything right away, but Mommy just 
laughed and said I should eat a little now and save the rest so it 
would last several days. 

Mommy and Daddy let me stay up awhile to eat my candy. 
Then they told me to get ready for bed. It was a lot later than I 
usually got to stay up anyway. 

I’m lying here in bed now, trying to go to sleep. But I’m too ex- 
cited thinking about how much fun I had tonight. When Mommy 
and Daddy came to tuck me in, I asked them why can’t I go Out- 
side more often. They said I’m not old enough and they don’t want 
me to get hurt. I wonder what’s Outside that would hurt me. I 
didn’t see anything tonight. I asked when I would get to go Out- 
side again. They looked at each other and Daddy said maybe next 
year. A year sounds like an awfully long time. I can’t imagine 
how long it is. But I have lots of toys and things to play with. 

Mommy and Daddy just left. Mommy kissed me and tucked me 
in. Daddy made sure my tail was underneath the covers so it 
wouldn’t get cold. Then he kissed me, too; and patted me on the 
head between my horns. He said he hoped I had a good time. 

I can’t wait until next year! 



REBUTTAL TO REBUTTAL TO $TAR WAR$ 

In making an empire quite free 
It surprises some people to see 
A cute princess all perk 
Make the men do the work. 

But it isn’t surprising to me. 

— Shaw Vinist 

149 




151 




Born 39 years ago — one of those 
rarities, a genuine, native-born 
Californian — Miss Clayton grew up on 
a dairy farm in the gentle wilds outside 
Modesto. She looks back on those days 
with warm nostalgia and a firm deter- 
mination never to attempt to earn her 
living at farming. She graduated from 
the University of Southern California 
( ^BK), and now teaches English in an 
inner-city school in New Orleans, 
struggling to interest seventh-graders 
in the basics of writing. She writes 
in part to remind herself that the 
English language does indeed exist. 
While this is her first short story, 
she has had four novels accepted 
by DAW Books, Diadem from the Stars, 
Lamarchos, Irsud, and Maeve. 

As Gleia hurried along the uneven planks of the walkway, pat- 
tering around the bodies of sleeping drunks, slipping past work- 
men and market women, Horli’s red rim bathed the street in 
blood-red light, painting a film of charm over the facades of the 
sagging buildings. 

She glanced up repeatedly, fearing to see the blue light of the 
second sun Hesh creeping into the sky. Late. Her breath came 
raggedly as she tried to move faster. She knocked against people 
in the crowded street, drawing curses after her. 

Late. Nothing had gone right this morning. When Horli’s light 
had crept throught the holes in her torn shade and touched her 
face, one look at the clock sent her into a panic, kicking the cov- 
ers frantically aside, tearing her nightgown over her head. No 
time to eat. No time to discipline her wild hair. She dragged a 
comb through the worst of the tangles as she splashed water into 
a basin. No time to straighten the mess in the room. She slapped 
water on her face, gasping at the icy sting. 

Rush. Grab up the rent money. Snatch open the wardrobe door 
and pull out the first cafta that came to hand. Slip feet into san- 
dals. A strap breaks. With half-swallowed gasp, dig out the old 
sandals with soles worn to a paper thinness. Rush. Drop the key 
chain around her neck. Hip strikes against a chair, knocking it 


152 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



over. Ah! No time to pick it up. Plunge from the room, pausing 
only to make sure the lock catches. Even in her feverish hurry 
she could feel nausea at the thought of old Miggela’s fat greasy 
fingers prodding through her things again. 

Clatter down the stairs. Down the creaking groaning spiral, 
fourth floor to ground floor. Nod the obligatory greeting to the 
blunt-snouted landlady who came out from her nest where she sat 
in ambush day and night. 

The sharp salty breeze whipped through the dingy side street, 
surrounding her with its burden of fish, tar, exotic spices, and the 
sour stench from the scavenger’s piles of scrap and garbage. The 
smells slid by unnoticed as she ran down the wooden walk, her 
footsteps playing a nervous tattoo on the planks. As she turned 
onto the larger main street, she glanced up once again. Hesh still 
hadn’t joined Horli in the sky. Thank god. Still a little time left. 
She could get to the shop before Hesh-rise. 

Her foot came down hard on a round object. It rolled backward, 
throwing her. She staggered. Her arms flung wildly out, then she 
fell forward on the planks, feeling her palms tearing as she tried 
to break her fall, feeling her knees tearing even through the 
coarse cloth of her cafta. 

For a minute she stayed on hands and knees, ignoring the curi- 
ous eyes of the workers flowing past her. Several stopped and 
asked if she was hurt. But she shook her head, her dark brown 
hair hanging about her face, hiding it from them. They shrugged, 
then went on, leaving her to recover by herself 

Still on her knees, she straightened her body and examined her 
palms. The skin was broken and abraded. Already she could feel 
her hands stiffening. She brushed the grit off, wincing at the 
pain. Then she looked around to find the thing that had brought 
her down. A crystalline pebble was caught in one of the cracks 
between the planks. Shaped like an egg, it was just big enough to 
fit in the palm of her hand. "A Ranga eye,” she whispered. 

Blue Hesh slid over the edge of the roof above her, reflecting in 
the crystal. Gleia looked cautiously around, then thrust the eye 
into her pocket and jumped to her feet, wincing at the pain that 
stabbed up from her battered knees. Limping, she hurried on to- 
ward the center of the city. 

"You’re late.” Habbibah came fluttering through the lines of 
bent backs, her tiny hands thrusting out of the sleeves of her 
elegant black velvet cafta like small pale animals. Her dark eyes 
darted from side tb side, scanning the girls’ work as she moved. 

A BAIT OF DREAMS 153 



Gleia sucked in a deep breath, then lowered her head submis- 
sively. She knew better than to try to excuse herself. 

Habbibah stopped in front of her, moving her hands constantly 
over herself, patting her hair, stroking her throat, touching her 
mouth with small feathery pats. "Well?” 

Gleia stretched out her hands, showing the lacerated palms. "I 
fell.” 

Habbibah shuddered. "Go wash.” She flicked a hand at the wall 
clock. "You’ll make up the time by working through the lunch 
break.” 

Gleia bit her lip. She could feel the emptiness growing inside 
her and a buzzing in her head and a tremble in her knees.- She 
wanted to protest but didn’t dare. 

"Go. Go. Go.” Habbibah fluttered hands at her. "Don’t touch the 
wedding cafta with those filthy hands and don’t waste more time.” 

As Gleia went into the dark, noisome washroom, she heard the 
soft voice lashing first one then another. She made a face and 
muttered, "Bitch.” The falling curtain muted the poisonous 
tongue. 

Hastily Gleia scrubbed at her hands, ignoring the sting of the 
coarse soap. She dried them on the towel, the only clean thing in 
the room. Clean because a filthy towel might lead to filthy hands 
which could damage the fine materials the girls worked on. Not 
for the workers, nothing ever done for the workers. She felt the 
crystal bang against her thigh as she turned to move out, felt a 
brief flare of excitement, but there was no time and she forgot it 
immediately. 

She slid into her place and took up her work, settling the can- 
dles so the light fell more strongly on the embroidery. White on 
white, a delicate pattern of fantasy flowers and birds. 

Habhibah’s shadow fell over the work. "Hands.” 

Gleia held out her hands. Small thumbs pressed hard on the 
drying wounds. 

"Good. No blood.” Habbibah’s hand flew to the shimmering 
white material protected from dust and wear by a sheath of coarse 
unbleached muslin. "Slow.” A finger jabbed at the incomplete sec- 
tions, flicking over the pricked-out design. "I must have it done by 
tomorrow. A two-drach fine for each hour you take over that.” 
Her shadow moved off as she darted away to scold one of the girls 
who was letting her candle gutter. 

Gleia caught her breath, a hard frustration squeezing her in the 


154 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



middle. Tomorrow? Sinking her teeth in her lower lip, she blinked 
back tears. She’d been counting on the money Habbibah had prom- 
ised her for this work. Twenty-five oboli. Enough to finish off the 
sum she needed to buy her bond, even to pay the bribes and leave 
a little over to live on. Now. . . . She looked around the cavernous 
room with the fifty small lights flickering over bent heads. Then 
she gritted her teeth. Damn her, she thought. I’ll finish this on 
time if it kills me. 

Resolutely she banished all distraction and bent over the work, 
her stiffened fingers slowing her until the exercise warmed them 
to their usual suppleness. 

As the band of embroidery crept along the front panels of the 
cafta, Gleia felt hungry, her stomach paining almost as if she 
were poisoned, but that went away after a while. 

While she sewed, her mind began to drift though her eyes clung 
tenaciously to the design. In a painful reverie, she relived brief 
images from her life, tracking the thread of events that had led 
her to this place at this moment. . . . 

First memories. Pain and fear. Dim images of adult faces. A 
woman’s arms clinging to her, then falling away. A man, face 
blurred, unrecognizable, shouting angrily, then in pain, then not 
at all. Then a series of faces that came and went like beads falling 
from a cheap necklace. 

Then . . . digging in garbage piles outside kitchen doors, fighting 
the scavengers — small shaggy creatures, with filthy hands and fur- 
tive eyes— for scraps of half-rotten vegetables, or bones with a 
shred of meat left on them. 

Habbibah came back, jerked the work from her hands and 
examined it closely. "Sloppy,” she grunted. She held the work so 
long Gleia clenched her hands into fists, biting her lip till blood 
came to hold back the protest that would spoil all her chances of 
finishing the cafta on time. 

A smile curled Habbibah’s small tight mouth into a wrinkled 
curve, then Habbibah thrust the material back at her. "Take 
more care, bonder, or I’ll have you rip the whole out.” 

Gleia watched her move on. For a minute she couldn’t unclench 
her fingers. She wants me to go overtime. She wants to make me 
beg. Damn her . . . damn her . . . damn . . . 

After a minute she took up the work again, driving the needle 
A BAIT OF DREAMS 155 



through the fabric with a vicious energy that abated after a while 
as the soothing spell of the work took over. Once again she fell 
into the swift loose rhythm that freed her mind to think of other 
things. 

Begging in the streets, running with packs of other abandoned 
children, sleeping in abandoned houses or old empty warehouses, 
barely escaping with her life from a fire that took twenty other 
children, wandering the streets, driven by cold back into the 
houses where the only heat was the body heat of the children 
sleeping in piles where some on the outside froze and some on the 
inside smothered, children dying in terrible numbers in the 
winter, only the toughest surviving. 

Being beaten and hurt until she grew old enough to fight, learn- 
ing to leap immediately into all-out attack whenever she had to 
fight, no matter what the cause, until the bigger children let her 
alone since it wasn’t worth expending so much of their own 
meager energy to defeat her over small matters. 

Being casually raped by a drunken sailor, then forgotten im- 
mediately as he staggered away, leaving her bloody and crying 
furiously on the cobblestones, not wholly sure of what had hap- 
pened to her, but recognizing the violation of her person and vow- 
ing it would not happen again, screaming she would kill him kill 
him. . . . 

Running in a gang after that, being forced to submit to Abbrab, 
the leader, bully-stupid but too strong for her, taking a perverse 
pride in being chosen, never liking it, realizing about that time the 
vulnerability of male pride and the superiority o/ male muscle. 

Learning to steal, driven to stealing by Abbrah, stealing from a 
merchant, being caught, branded, bound into service with Hab- 
bibab. 

Being scrubbed up and forced to learn . . . the lessons, oh the 
lessons, shadowed impersonal faces bending over her, voices, 
hushed and insistent, beating at her. . . . 

She jumped. A cowled figure moved soundlessly past, the coarse 
cloth of his robe slapping against her ankles. She watched the 
Madarman halt beside Habbibah and begin talking. Habbibah 
nodded and the two figures moved out of the room, both silent, 
both trailing huge black shadows that spread depressingly over 
the sewing girls. What’s that about, she wondered. Madarman . . . 


156 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



. . . cowled figures, voices demanding, learn or be beaten, 
memorize and repeat, mechanical rote learning, paying no atten- 
tion to what is learned, cram the songs, the histories, the 
Madarhymns into the unwilling little heads. Repeat. Repeat. Work 
all morning, then, when her body rebelled, when she yearned /or 
the freedom of the streets with a passion that swamped even her 
continual hunger to know, set to school by order of the Madarmen 
to save her piti/ul soul. 

History in chant, /aydugar, the testing ground o/ the gods. The 
Madar’s white hands reached among the stars and plucked their 
fruit, the souls that needed testing, catmen and mermen, caravan- 
ner and hunter, scavenger and parsi, plucked wriggling from their 
home trees and dropped naked on the testing ground. Chant of the 
coming. I take you from the nest that makes you weak and blind. I 
take from you your metal slaves. I take from you your far-seeing 
eyes. I take from you the wings whereby you sail from star to star. 

I purify you. I give you your bands. I promise you cleverness and 
time. Out of nothing you will build new wings. . . . 

New wings. Gleia snorted. Several girls turned to look at her, 
their faces disapproving. She smiled blankly at them and they 
settled back to work. She could hear the furtive whispers hissing 
between them but ignored them. Her needle whispered through 
sheer white material, popping in and out with smooth skill. She 
sniffed scornfully at the other girls’ refusal to accept her into 
their community. 

New wings. . . . She frowned down as she looped the thread in a 
six-petalled flower and whipped the loops in place. It might make 
an interesting design . . . new wings . . . the stars . . . she popped 
the needle through the material in a series of dandelion-bloom 
crosses. Did we all come here from other stars? How? Her frown 
deepened. The Madar . . . that was nonsense . . . wasn’t it? 

The Madarman came down the aisle and stopped beside her. He 
held out his hand. Reluctantly Gleia set the needle into the mate- 
rial and gave him her work, biting her lip as she saw the dark 
crescents of dirt under his fingernails. She held her breath as he 
brought the cloth up close to rheumy eyes. 

"Good,” he grunted. He thrust the cloth back at her and 
stumped off to rejoin Habbibah. Gleia took a minute to stretch 
her cramped limbs and straighten her legs as she watched Hab- 
bibah usher him out. Looks like I’m up for a new commission, she 
thought. She looked over the line of bent backs, feeling a fierce 

A BAIT OF DREAMS 157 



superiority to those giggling idiots raised secure in homes with 
fathers and mothers to protect them. Here they were anyway, 
doing the same thing for a lot less pay than she was getting. 
Gleia. The despised bonder. The marked thief. She wriggled her 
fingers to work some of the cramp out of them, then touched the 
brand on her cheek. Then she sighed and went back to the design. 
Her thoughts drifted back to her life. Remembering. . . . 

Being forced to learn rough sewing, then embroidery, taking a 
timid pride in a growing skill, taking a growing pride in making 
designs that she soon recognized to be superior to any others 
created in Habbibah’s establishment. 

Learning she could buy herself free of the bond if she could ever 
find or save enough money. Fifty oboloi for the bond. Fifty oboloi 
for the bribes. More to keep herself while she hunted for work. Joy 
and despair. And joy again. . . . 

Demanding and getting special pay for special projects. Her 
work brought fancy sums to Habbibah’s greedy /ingers and 
more — a reputation for the unique that brought her custom she 
couldn’t have touched before. The old hitch tried to beat her into 
working, but she had learned too well how to survive. She was 
stubborn enough to resist punishment and to persist in her de- 
mands, sitting resolutely idle through starvings and whippings 
and threats until she won her point. 

Gleia jabbed the needle through the cloth. It glanced off a fin- 
gernail, coming close to pricking her finger and drawing blood. 
She leaned back, breathing fast, trying to calm herself. A drop of 
blood marring the white was all she needed. Not now. Not so close 
to winning. She couldn’t stand another month of this slavery. She 
fingered the mark on her cheek and knew they’d throw her into 
prison as incorrigible if she tried to run away. 

Sometime later Habbibah made the last round, inspecting the 
day’s work. She stopped beside Gleia and picked up the cloth, 
running the unworked length of design through her plump white 
fingers. "Pah! too slow. And there.” She jabbed a forefinger at the 
last sections of work. "You did finer work than that when you 
were learning. Tomorrow you come in one hour early. Abbosine 
will be told to let you in.” She pinched the material between her 
fingers. "Take out that last work to there.” She thrust the strip of 
embroidery into Gleia’s face and indicated a spot about two palms’ 
width above the last stitches. "I won’t tolerate such miserable 


158 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



cobbling going out under my name.” 

Gleia closed her eyes. Her hands clenched into fists. She 
wanted to smash the old woman in the face, to 
smash smash smash that little weasel face into bloody 
ruin, then wipe the ruin on that damn cafta. But she doubted 
whether she could stand without tumbling over, so she managed 
to keep her head down and her mouth shut. When the old woman 
went off to scold someone else, she sat still, hands fisted in her 
lap. 

Habbibah’s scolding voice faded as she left the room. The other 
girls moved about, chattering cautiously, eyes turning slyly about, 
watching out for the sudden return of their employer. When they 
had all trickled out, bunched into laughing clusters of work- 
friends, Gleia forced herself onto her feet. 

The world swung. She grabbed at the sewing stand and held on 
tight until the room steadied around her. With neat economical 
movements she folded her work and put it in the box, then she 
walked through the rows of silent tables, a fragile glass person 
that the slightest shock would crack into a thousand fragments. 

Outside, the darkening twilight threw a veil of red over the 
crowded streets, blurring covered carts with screeching wheels 
into horsemen riding past in dark solid groups into single riders 
gawking at the city sights into throngs of people pushing along 
the wooden walkways. She hummed the Madarchant of the 
peoples. Chilkaman caiman fisherman and hunter, parsi 
plainsman desert fox and herder, firssi mountainman caravanner 
hawkster. ... In spite of her fatigue she sucked in a deep breath 
and watched furtively the fascinating variety of peoples flowing 
past her. Chilka catmen from the plains with their hairy faces, 
flat noses, and double eyelids, the inner transparent one retracted 
into the damp tissue folds around their bulging slit-pupilled eyes. 
Caravanners, small and quick, more like her own parsi people, 
dark hair, dark eyes, pale faces. Mountain hunters, far from their 
heights, with dark gold skin and brown hair bleached almost 
white at the tips, leading horses loaded with fur bales. 

A breath of salt air, cool and fresh as the sea itself, stung her 
nose. A flash of opaline emerald. Impression of scaled flesh flow- 
ing liquidly past. A merman. Ignoring the irritated protest of the 
other pedestrians she turned and stared after the slim amphibian 
walking with the characteristic quick clumsy grace of the sea 
folk. She didn’t recognize him. Disappointed, she edged to the wall 
and stumbled tiredly though the crowd thinking about the only 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


159 



friend she’d ever had, a slim gi'een boy ... so long ago ... so long 
ago 

She walked slowly into the dingy front hall of the boarding 
house, putting each foot down with stiff care, wondering how she 
was going to get up all those damn creaking stairs. 

"Gleia, ’spina.” The hoarse breathy voice brought her to a care- 
ful halt. She inched her head around, feeling that her burning 
eyes would roll from her head if she moved too quickly. 

"Rent.” Miggela held out a short stubby hand. 

Gleia closed her eyes and fumbled in her pocket, sore fingers 
groping for the packet of coins she’d put there earlier. Her fingers 
closed on the egg-shaped stone and she frowned — not remember- 
ing, for a minute, where the thing came from. 

The rat-faced landlady scowled and flapped her pudgy hand up 
and down. "Rent!” 

Gleia slid her hand past the crystal and found the packet. Si- 
lently she drew it out and handed it to the old woman. 

Miggela tore clumsily at the paper. Her crusted tongue clamped 
between crooked yellow teeth, she counted the coins with deliber- 
ate slowness, examining each one with suspicious care, peering 
nearsightedly at the stamping. 

Gleia rubbed her hand across her face, too tired to be irritated. 

Slipping the coins into a sleeve pocket, Miggela stood staring up 
into the taller woman’s drawn face. "You’re late. You missed sup- 
per.” 

"Oh.” 

"And don’t you go trying to cook in your room.” 

"No.” She wasn’t hungry anymore but knew she had to have 
food. Her legs trembled. She wanted more than anything to lie 
down. But she turned and went out. She walked slowly over the 
uneven planks, heading aimlessly toward the edge of the night- 
quarter and a familiar cookshop. 

Gleia strolled out of the cookshop feeling more like herself with 
two meat pies and a cup of cha warming her middle. She held a 
third pie in her hand. She sank her teeth into the pie, chewing 
slowly, drifting along the street watching the people move past 
her. 

Horli was completely gone in the west with only a stain of red 
to mark her passing while the biggest moon Aab was thrusting 
her pale white edge over the rooflines to the east, her brilliant 
colorless light cutting through inky shadows. Gleia knew she 


160 


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should get back to her room. There were too many dangers for a 
woman alone here. Sighing, she began working her way through 
the noisy crowd toward the slum quarter. She finished the pie, 
wiped her greasy hands on a bit of paper, and dropped the paper 
in the gutter for the scavengers to pick up in their dawn sweeps 
through the streets. 

The crowd thinned as she left the commercial area and moved 
into the slum that held a few decrepit stables and row on row of 
ancient dwellings converted into boarding houses. Some were 
empty with staring black windows where the glass was gone — 
stolen or broken by derelicts who could find no other place to 
sleep. One by one these abandoned houses burned down, leaving 
behind fields of weeds and piles of broken, blackened boards. 

Gleia looked up at the grey, weathered front of Miggela’s place. 
She was tired to the point of giddiness but she felt such a reluc- 
tance to go inside that she couldn’t force her foot onto the warped 
lower step; instead she went past the house and turned into the 
alley winding back from the side street. Moving quickly, eyes 
flicking warily about, she trotted past the one-room hovels where 
the small scurrying scavengers lived anonymous lives. Sometimes 
desperate bashers and maulers hid out there waiting for sailors to 
come stumbling back to their ships. She went around the end of a 
warehouse, the last in the line of those circling the working front 
of the dredged port. The water here was too shallow to accommo- 
date any but the smallest ships. 

She saw a small neat oceangoer, a chis-makka, one of the inde- 
pendent gypsy ships that went up and down the coast as the 
winds and their cargoes dictated. The ship was dark, the crew ap- 
parently on liberty in one of the taverns whose lights and noise 
enlivened the waterfront some distance in toward the center. Out 
here it was quiet, with ravellings of fog beginning to thicken over 
the water. As the waves slapped regularly at the piles, the eve- 
ning on-shore breeze made the rigging on board the chis-makka 
creak and groan. 

Gleia edged to the far side of the wharf and kicked off her san- 
dals. Then she ran along the planks, bent over, making no more 
sound than a shadow. She slid over the end of the wharf and 
pulled herself onto one of the crossbars nailed from pile to pile 
under the broad planks. Ignoring the coating of slime and drying 
seaweed, she sat with her back against a pile, her legs dangling 
in space, her feet moving back and forth just above the rocking 
surface of the water. 


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161 



For a long while she sat there, the sickening emotional mix 
settling away until she felt calm and at peace again. The fog con- 
tinued to thicken, sounds coming to her over the water with an 
eerie remoteness. 

Something pushed against her thigh. She remembered the 
Ranga eye that had thrown her so disastrously in the morning. As 
she reached into her pocket, the water broke in a neat splash and 
a glinting form came out of it, swooping onto the crossbar beside 
her. In her surprise she nearly toppled off into the still-agitated 
water, but the merman caught hold of her and steadied her. 

Her face almost nosing into his chest, she saw the water pour 
from his gill slits and the slits squeeze closed. The moonlight 
struggling through the fog touched his narrow young face and re- 
flected off his pointed mother-of-pearl teeth as he sucked air into 
his breathing bladder than grinned at her. "Thought it was you. 
No other land crawler ever come here.” 

"Tetaki?” She closed her fingers around his cool hard forearm. 
"I haven’t seen you in years.” Shaking her head, she smiled un- 
certainly at him. "Years.” 

"Not sin’ you was finger high.” 

"You weren’t any bigger.” She tugged at her nose, amusement 
bubbling inside her. "Brat.” 

He perched easily on the narrow bar, his short crisp hair al- 
ready drying and springing into the curls that used to fascinate 
her with their tight coils and deep blue color. "Good times. We 
was good friends.” He was silent a minute. "This isn’t the firs’ 
year I come back. You never come here.” 

"I was thinking about you earlier.” She pushed away from the 
pile and touched his knee. "The only friend I ever had.” 

His hand closed around hers, cool and metal smooth, his flesh 
unlike hers but comforting. "I come each time. You were never 
here.” 

"At first I couldn’t,” she said, her fatigue and depression coming 
back like the fog to shroud her, smother her spirit. She sighed. 
"Later . . . Later, I forgot.” 

"What happened?” His hand tightened on hers. She looked up. 
The shining unfamiliar planes of his face seemed to banish the 
fog. Then he smiled. His teeth were a carnivore’s fangs, needle 
sharp and double rowed. "Forgot me? Shame.” 

She laughed and pulled free. "I turned thief. Abbrah made me. 
Remember him?” 

His teeth glinted again. "I got reason.” 

162 A BAIT OF DREAMS 



Gleia stared at her feet swinging back and forth over the dark 
water, almost black here under the wharf but flickering with tiny 
silver highlights where the moonlight danced off the tops of 
wavelets, remembering. . . . 

A delegation of the amphibian people had come to negotiate 
trade rights with the MaJeek; Tetaki’s father was a minor official. 
She remembered a slim scaled form with big lightgreen eyes and 
tight-coiled blue hair poking through a dingy side street looking 
eagerly about at the strange sights. Alone. Foolishly alone. Ab- 
brah’s gang gathered around him, baiting him, coming closer and 
closer to attack. Something about his refusal to give in to them 
stirred a spark in Gleia and she fought her way to his side in that 
stubborn all-out battle the gang knew too well. So they backed off, 
shouting obscenities, reasserting their dominance by showing con- 
tempt for her and her protege. She took him back to his father and 
scolded the startled merman for his carelessness. 

"You got caught.” His dry comment roused her from her reverie. 

"I was a lousy thief. Yes, I got caught. And bonded. See?” She 
turned her face so he could see the bondmark burned into her 
cheek. "What about you?” 

He chuckled and waved a hand toward the dark shadow that 
marked the presence of the chis-makka. "Ours. This is the fifth 
summer we come to the fairs.” 

"Hey.” She forced congratulatory laughter. 

He bent closer, staring into her face. "You don’ look so good.” 

She yawned. "Madar, I’m tired.” She swallowed another yawn. 
"That’s all.” 

"Come back wit’ me. Temokeuu would welcome you. You could 
live wit’ us.” 

She stroked the mark on her cheek but didn’t answer for a 
minute. He settled back, content to let her announce her answer 
when she was ready. Finally, she shook her head. "Can’t, Tetaki. 
I’m stuck here till my bond is cancelled. You going to be here 
long?” 

"We’ve had good trading.” He frowned. "Two, three days more, I 
think.” 

"At least we can talk some. I’ve missed having someone to talk 
to.” 

"Come see Temokeuu. We show you the ship.” 

A BAIT OF DREAMS 163 



"Sure.” She yawned again. "I’d better get back. I have to be up 
an hour early tomorrow.” She swung herself up onto the wharf, 
hung her head over the edge for a minute. "See you.” 

Her room looked like someone had taken a giant spoon and 
given it a quick stir. The sheet, blanket, and quilt hung over the 
side of the bed where she’d kicked them. Her one chair was over- 
turned. She remembered her hip catching it on the way out. The 
wardrobe door hung halfway open. The sandal with a broken 
strap sat forlornly in the middle of the floor. 

Gleia stretched, feeling the spurious energy from the warm food 
beginning to trickle away. Yawning repeatedly she pulled the bed 
to rights and straightened the room superficially, then tugged the 
ties loose and pulled her cafta over her head. The crystal bumped 
against her and she fished it out before she hung the garment 
away. Then she strolled across the room to the nightstand, turn- 
ing the Ranga eye over and over in her hands. She dropped it in 
the middle of the bed and took out her cha pot, setting it next to 
the water tin. From the bottom drawer in the bed table she pulled 
out the tiny sway-bottomed brazier, setting it up on the wide win- 
dow ledge. Using the candle and strips of paper, she got the char- 
coal burning, then set the water tin on the grill. Making sure the 
window was wedged open, she left the tin to boil and went back to 
the nightstand. She dumped a palmful of leayes into the cha pot 
and got a cup ready, then let herself collapse on top of the quilt. 

She folded the pillow twice to prop up her head and reached 
out, prodding the quilt. She fished the eye from under the curve of 
her back and turned it over and over, examining it idly. 

A Ranga eye. She’d heard whispers of them. A frisson of fear 
shivered down her spine. If they caught her with it. . . . If they 
caught her, she could forget about buying her bond. Or anything 
else. If I could sell it . . . somehow . . . somehow ... if I could sell 
it, Madar! Bonded thief with a Ranga eye. If I could sell it. . . . 

The crystal warmed as she touched it. At first a few tentative 
sparks licked through the water-clear form. She felt a surge of de- 
light. The tips of her fingers moved in slow caressing circles over 
the smooth surface. The colors began cycling hypnotically, then 
the color forms began to shift their nature, imperceptibly altering 
into images of a place. As she watched, the picture developed 
rapidly, blurred at first, then sharpening into focus. 

Gentle hills rolled into a blue distance, covered with a velvety 
green carpet, a species of thick moss dotted with small star- 


164 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



shaped pseudo-flowers. Other flower forms as large as trees were 
spaced over the slopes, each form existing at the middle of a circu- 
lar space roughly equal to the extreme limit of its four leaf-stems. 
The leaves were eight-sided and multiple, marching along wiry 
black stems curving out from the central stalk at a spot halfway 
up to the bloom, four black arcs springing out at the same height 
from the ground. At the top of each plant great brilliant petals 
rayed out from a black center that gathered in the butter-yellow 
light of a single sun. 

Another sun. She stroked the crystal, dreaming of another 
place, a better place, feeling a growing excitement. The tin on the 
fire began to whistle softly. Gleia dropped the eye on the bed, lev- 
ered herself up, and scuffed across to the brazier. She poured the 
bubbling water over the cha leaves. While they were steeping, she 
tilted the rest of the water onto the glowing coals. Head tipped 
back to avoid the billowing steam, she let the blackened water 
trickle down the side of the building. Then she knocked out the 
wedge and pulled the window shut. 

With a cup of cha in one hand and the eye in the other, a clean 
nightgown on her body and the pillow freshly folded for her head, 
she lay and watched the play of colors in the crystal. The image 
began to move through the flower trees, as if she was seeing 
through the eyes of some creature flying just below the petals of 
the flower tops. Before she had time to get bored with the lovely 
but monotonous landscape she flew out into the open, skimming 
along brilliant white sand. Blue waves rolled in with white-caps 
breaking cleanly, rhythmically. The sky stretched above, a glow- 
ing cloudless blue only slightly lighter than the sea. As she hov- 
ered in place she saw other creatures come flittering from the 
flower forest. A delicate-boned male with huge black eyes danced 
up to her, spiralling in complex pirouettes. 

Huge black eyes soft as soot and as shineless. Thin arms and 
legs. Hands whose long slender fingers, like jointed sticks, were 
half the length of the forearms. Body short and broad, the shoul- 
ders muscled hugely. 

From his back sprang wide delicate butterfly wings patterned 
with brilliant colors in black-outlined splotches. He rode the air in 
swoops and glides, wheeled in front of her, small mouth stretched 
in a wide inviting grin, narrow hands beckoning. . . . 

The exhaustion of the day caught up with her and she sank into 
a heavy sleep, the last of the cha spilling on the bed, soaking 
into the mattress. The crystal rolled out of her loosened fingers. 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


165 



When the alarm bell woke her in the morning the cha spot was 
still damp and the leaves were smeared over her shoulder and 
back. The crystal had worked along her body and ended up in the 
hollow between her neck and shoulder. When she picked it up to 
put it in the drawer, it seemed to cling to her fingers, quivering 
gently against her skin, shedding a pleasant warmth that slid up 
her arm and made her feel soft and dreamy. She shut off the 
alarm and stumbled to the wardrobe still half asleep in the deep 
red dawn. With the eye clutched in her hand she fumbled for a 
cafta. After she wriggled into the garmet, she slid the stone into 
the pocket not noticing what she was doing, tied the ties, and 
smoothed the material down over her body. 

The cavernous sewing room was dark and silent when Gleia 
walked in. She wound through the close lines of sewing tables and 
settled in her usual place. She lit the candles and took out her 
sewing. Holding the delicate material close to the flame, she 
examined the last bit of embroidery. It was good enough. Damn if 
she was going to pick it out. 

She threaded her needle with the silk. Tongue clamped between 
her lips, she snipped at the loose ends, dropping small bits of 
thread haphazardly over the floor, over her cafta, around the ta- 
ble, scattering the pieces of thread with a gleeful abandon. 

Sometime later, after the room had filled and the other girls 
were bent over their work, Habbibah came by, her sharp eyes 
darting over the scattered ends of thread. Her mouth pursed in 
satisfaction, she sailed past to pounce on an unfortunate girl who 
had chanced to look up and stretch at the wrong time. 

Gleia swallowed a smile, feeling a warm buoyant satisfaction at 
fooling the old bitch. 

At the end of the long day, she stretched and rubbed her red, 
tired eyes. She stood motionless beside the sewing table a minute 
with eyes closed, then she shook out the cafta, ran a quick eye 
over the lines of embroidery, put the cafta on a hanger, and car- 
ried it to Habbibah. 

"Finished,” she murmured, keeping her head down to hide the 
triumph that flushed her face. 

Habbibah took the cafta and pulled the bands of embroidery 
close to her eyes as she went over the work, stitch by stitch. 
When she was finished, she grunted sourly, her small black eyes 
darting at Gleia, then she sailed off, the cafta a fluttering white 
banner beside her small black figure. Gleia waited tensely. 

166 A BAIT OF DREAMS 



Twenty-five oboloi, she thought. I won’t take less. But she knew 
that she would, that she had to. But Hahhihah didn’t know that. 
Oh God, she couldn’t know. I’ve fought her too often and even won 
a couple of times. She has to think I’ll fight her on this. Has to 
think . . . 

Hahhihah came hack. She stopped in front of Gleia. "Not your 
best work,” she grumbled. Her small plump fingers were closed 
about a small bag of coins. "Hold out your hand.” With painful 
reluctance she eased the drawstring loose and pulled out an eight 
sided gold coin. "Pentobol. One.” She pressed the coin into Gleia’s 
palm, her fingers sliding off the metal with a lingering caressing 
motion. 

Slowly, releasing the coins like drops of her own blood, Hab- 
bibah counted out five pentoboloi into Gleia’s outstretched hand. 
Holding the bag with the remaining coins pressed tightly against 
her breast, Habbibah looked at Gleia with distaste. "You be on 
time in the morning. The Maleeka wants a cafta with embroi- 
dered sleeves for the name day of her youngest daughter.” She 
hesitated. "You’ll be paid the same,” she finished sourly. 

Gleia bowed her head further, rounding her shoulders. Hai, you 
old bitch, she thought. No wonder you paid me the whole. My god, 
the Maleeka. How you must be preening yourself. 

She went out into the street and wandered along, feeling tired 
but elated. She had the money. No more aching back. No more 
passive acceptance of abuse. She fingered the mark on her cheek. 
Closed her fingers on the coins in her pocket. The eye rolled 
against her hand but she ignored it, happily planning her visit to 
the House of Records. 

Her feet eventually took her to the boarding house. Looking up 
at the shadowed facade she scratched her chin and hesitated. She 
could smell the awful stew Miggela had cooked up for them, an 
unappetizing mess with a few shreds of cheap meat, tough vege- 
tables, and thick filling of soggy barley. The rancid smell followed 
her as she walked away toward the cookshop where the grease 
was fresher at least. Foolish as it was to wander about with all 
that money in her pocket, it was good to walk and feel free for a 
while, to let the sea breeze ruffle through her hair, to sluff along 
the walkway, winding in and out of the men and women walking 
purposefully homeward, the noisy influx of sailors from the 
wharves, the streetwalkers who were coming out to start their 
peculiar workdays. She looked eagerly around trying to spot 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


167 



another of the mermen but saw none. 

She came out of the shop munching on a pie, enjoying the taste 
all the more when she thought of the stew the faceless collection 
of losers were stuffing down their throats at Miggela’s table. 

She stopped at the alley leading to the wharf but shook her 
head. That would be a bit too stupid. Sighing, she clumped up the 
steps and went inside. 

Miggela popped out of ambush. "You missed supper.” 

Gleia compressed her lips, but swallowed what she wanted to 
say. Somehow, this close to freedom, it was doubly hard to control 
her tongue. "Yes,” she said. 

"You don’t get no refund, you miss supper.” 

"I know.” She nodded briefly and moved away to the spiral 
staircase with its collection of creaks and groans. 

In her room, she crossed to the window, leaned out, hid the 
money in her special place under the eaves. After lighting her 
candle she tidied the room a bit more and heated water for cha. 
When she was finally ready for bed, she was surprised to find the 
eye in her hand. She didn’t remember picking it up. For a mo- 
ment she was frightened, then curious. The crystal warmed in her 
palm as she walked slowly across to the bed. 

Sipping at the cha, the quilt pulled in a triangle over her mid- 
dle, she held the eye up enjoying the flow of the colors. 

Then she was flitting again under the flower tops. She came out 
on the beach, further on this time. Hovering over the white sand, 
she looked curiously around and saw distant buildings perched on 
slender poles, a line of graceful points and curves on the horizon. 
Then the butterfly man came sailing out of the sun, a black 
shimmer with gold edges dancing on the breeze, an ebullient joy- 
fulness that made her quiver with delight and feel the swoop of 
laughter in her blood. She joined him, dancing, turning, twisting 
over the blue-green of the wrinkled sea. Cool wine air slipped 
along her body and her dance became more intense. Others came 
and they laughed a silent laughter, long slender feelers clicking 
in telegraphic wit. 

The mug dropped, spilling a last few drops of cold cha on the 
bed as she drifted to sleep, fingers still curled tightly about the 
eye. In her dreams the air dancers whispered come 
come come join us come 

In the morning she dragged herself out of bed and dressed with 
one hand, clutching the crystal in the other, paying no attention 
to the unmade bed and ignoring the nightgown dropped on the 


168 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



floor when she stepped out of it. 


She listened distantly as Habhibah described the cafta to be 
embroidered, took the ruled paper and went to her table to draw 
the designs. 

Her fingers slipped into her pocket and moved slowly over the 
sensuous warm surface of the crystal. 

Habhibah came scolding when she saw nothing on the paper. 

Gleia looked at her vaguely, listened until the wizened little 
woman was done with her tirade, then bent over the paper. She 
began sketching flower forms under a single sun and dancing 
soaring butterfly figures, working the whole into a rhythm of 
lightness and joy. 

Habhibah watched for a minute then went quietly away, smil- 
ing with greedy satisfaction. 

Gleia went back to dreaming. 

In her room that night she stripped off the cafta, hung it on a 
hook, and forgot it. Forgot to wash. Forgot to make her cha. She 
picked up the nightgown from the floor and slipped it over her 
head, ignoring its damp musty smell. She lay down on the wrink- 
led sheet turning the crystal over and over in her hands. 

They came swooping around her, taking her through the line of 
houses perched on slender peeled sticks that raised them high 
above the flower-dotted moss below. Through open arches pointed 
at the tops. Past arches filled with knotted hanging accented with 
shell and polished seeds. Past walls bare and pearly grey, with 
brilliant hangings creating stripes of glowing color against their 
bareness. Over floors upholstered with padded carpets, different 
colors in different rooms. Through room on room on room sepa- 
rated from one another by cascades of multi-sized arches. Anten- 
nas clicking with laughter, the butterfly people darted about, 
showing off their homes. 

come come they whispered to her leave your mis- 
eries behind and ride the wind with us come come 

In the morning she dragged herself out of bed, put on the crum- 
pled cafta from yesterday. Dressed with one hand again, not 
aware that her movements were limited by the warm and throb- 
bing crystal clutched in her right hand. She thrust it finally in 
her pocket and left the room without washing herself or doing 

ABAITOFDREAMS 169 



anything about the mess she left behind. 


At work she sat hunched over the layout paper, running her 
pencil idly over the sketch from the day before, dreaming as idly 
of the crystal’s world. 

Habbibah came by sometime later and looked over her shoul- 
der. When she saw the whole morning had gone by with nothing 
done, she exploded with rage. "Hai, worm!” she shrieked. Her 
small hand buried itself in Gleia’s tangled hair and jerked her 
head up. "What’re you sniffing, bonder?” She peered into Gleia’s 
dull eyes. "By the Madar, I’ll teach you to waste my money on 
that filth. Abbosine!” 

The big tongueless watchman came from the small room where 
he spent his days. He took Gleia’s hand, pulling her down the hall 
into the punish room. He pushed her against the wall and closed 
a set of cuffs about her wrists, her struggles as futile as fly tickles 
against his unthinking strength. He looked briefly at Habbibah. 
When she jerked her head at the door, he shambled dully out. 

The furious little woman slammed her fist into Gleia’s back, 
driving her against the wall. "You never learn,” she hissed. "You 
never learn, bonder. Maybe I can’t make you work, fool, but you’ll 
hurt for it.” She stepped back and swung the many tongued whip. 

The sharkeskin tails slashed down, slicing through the worn 
cloth of the cafta, cutting lines of fire into Gleia’s back. She 
gasped. 

Grunting in a fury that showed no sign of abating, Habbibah 
lashed at Gleia again and again, screaming her rage at Gleia for 
all the times the girl had successfully defied her. For all the 
lovely coins the girl had milked from her. Finally, shaking, eyes 
bloodshot, face flushed, Habbibah dropped the bloody whip and 
walked out of the room with slow, dragging steps. 

Gleia hung shuddering from her wrists, her legs tpo weak to 
support her weight. The crystal dream was cleaned out of her sys- 
tem by the pain that turned her body to mush. 

Slowly she began to feel stronger, though, as the shock passed, 
the pain bit deeply into her. She pushed against the stone floor 
with stiff numb feet and took the punishing weight off her wrists. 
Standing face to the wall, she came to the humbling conclusion 
that she was a fool. To be trapped by a Ranga eye when she knew 
better. To be trapped by dreams like any giggling slogger’s 
daughter. Dreams! 

She felt the crystal press against her leg, sending warmth 
170 A BAIT OF DREAMS 



through the material of her cafta into her flesh. She jerked the 
leg back, feeling disgust at herself as she trembled with the mem- 
ory of the beauty she’d seen in the eye, longing intensely, while at 
the same time shuddering with revulsion, for the freedom of soar- 
ing on air with the butterfly people of the dream. Somehow she 
felt they were real and not mere phantoms of a drugged mind. 
That their world was real. Somewhere. She couldn’t comprehend 
how the crystal could serve as a gateway to that world, but deep 
within her she knew she could pass through the gate into a gentle 
world unlike the rough, unfeeling one she’d been born into. Ranga 
eye. Eye into another world. 

"I’m not going to touch you again,” she muttered, resting her 
forehead against the cold damp stone. "I’ll sell you. I will. I’ll find 
a way.” The crystal bumped hard against her thigh, sending a 
stab of pain through her already aching body. "We’ll see who wins 
once I get out of this.” 

Her feet began to ache since she couldn’t rest fully on her heels. 
Her arms ached, stretching without respite over her head. 

Fatigue and the effort of fighting off the insidious invasion of 
the crystal brought her close to fainting, while the growing cer- 
tainty that Habbibah intended to leave her there all night, in a 
final attempt to break her spirit, was a cold knot in the pit of her 
stomach. She knew that if the old bitch did, the crystal would 
have her. 

She smashed her hip against the wall, letting out a scream of 
anger and pain when the crystal ground into her muscle, striking 
hard against nerves. Sweating and breathing raggedly, she hung 
in the wrist cuffs, tears of pain streaming down her face, strug- 
gling to regain a measure of control of her body. 

When she could think again, she shook her head. "No good,” 
she muttered. She couldn’t shatter it, maybe she could ease it out 
of her pocket. 

Pinning the material against the stone she pressed herself to 
the wall, counting on the pain to keep the crystal from charming 
her. Wriggling, contorting her body until she was bathed in a film 
of sweat, she struggled to work the eye out of her pocket. 

It fought back. Whenever she managed to squeeze it an inch or 
so from the bottom of the pocket, it wriggled like a thing alive 
and eeled away from the pressure. 

She kept trying until she was exhausted, sick with pain, shak- 
ing too hard to control her body any longer. 

It was dark in the room when Abbosine shambled back. The 

A BAIT OF DREAMS 171 



huge mute unfastened the cuffs and watched with massive indif- 
ference as she crumpled to the floor. Stolidly he wound his thick 
fingers in her hair and dragged her through the building and out 
into the alley where he dropped her in a heap beside the worker’s 
entrance. 

Gleia pushed herself onto her feet and stood swaying, support- 
ing herself with a hand pressed against the side of the building. 
Then the anger that still simmered under the haze of fatigue gave 
her the strength to start walking over the cobblestones toward the 
main street. 

She went to the wharf. Gritting her teeth against the pain she 
swung down onto the worn crossbar that was her only refuge at so 
many crises in her life. 

Clouds sailed with clumsy grace over the darkening sky, tinged 
with a last touch of crimson though Horli had slid behind the 
horizon some time ago. Here and there a star glimmered in the 
patches of indigo sky visible between the cloud puffs. On the 
water the fog blew in thickening strands, coming up to curl 
around her feet. 

The air had a nip that marked the decline of the summer. 
Winter coming, she thought. Three hundred days of winter. I’ve 
got to get away. Somehow. Get south. Her back itched and stung. 
The bruise on her thigh was an agony whenever she moved her 
legs. 

But she was free from the eye and tomorrow she would be free 
of Habbibah too. She leaned tentatively against the pile, closing 
tired eyes once she was settled. Tomorrow. After the House of 
Records . . . what? 

The water splashed and Tetaki was perched on the bar beside 
her. She jumped then winced as her back protested. 

"What’s wrong?” His mouth opened baring the tips of his teeth. 
His eyes searched her face, seeing the pain. 

"I was stupid.” 

"Turn.” His hand was cool on her arm. "Let me see.” 

She pulled back. 

"Gleia.” 

"If you must.” Holding onto the slanting brace, she swung 
around so he could see her back. With her 'ice hidden, her 
forehead resting against the pile, she spoke too idly. "I told you. 
I was stupid! I knew better than to provoke hei. Especially when 
she’d just had to pay me a bonus.” 


172 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



His hand touched the lacerated flesh with exquisite gentleness. 
It still hurt. She sank her teeth into her lip to keep from crying 
out. 

"Come wit’ me.” 

"What?” 

"To the ship. We got med’cine. Your skin’s cut. ’Less wounds 
are clean you have trouble wit’ them.” 

"I suppose so.” She eased herself around. "Help me up.” 

He sat back on his heels, an odd look on his face. "Firs’ time 
you ever ask for help.” 

She hauled herself to her feet and risked a crooked smile. "Give 
me a boost, friend.” 

On the ship, he nodded to the watch and took her below to his 
cabin. "Wait here. I get med’cine.” 

She sat on the narrow bunk and looked around with a quickly 
growing appreciation of the neatness, comfort, and convenience of 
the small cabin. A shelf of books running around the top of the 
wall, locked in place by an ingenious webbing. A desk folded 
away against the wall. A chair folded and latched flat. Two long 
chests. A shell lantern hanging from the beam bisecting the ceil- 
ing. The light coming through the translucent shell touched the 
room with rosy gold warmth. The oil was lightly perfumed with a 
pleasant fresh smell that made her think of forests and green 
growing things. 

When Tetaki came back his father Temokeuu came with him. 
The older merman pushed gently on her shoulder, bending her 
over so he could see her back. "This isn’t the firs’ time.” 

"I learn hard.” 

"What lesson?” 

"Submission.” 

"Hmm.” He took the jar Tetaki was holding out. "This will hurt 
a little at first.” 

The salve stung like acid. She hissed in a breath and bit her lip 
till blood came, squeezed her eyes shut until tears came, then 
suddenly her back was cool and no more pain ... ah ... no more 
pain. She straightened and moved her shoulders. In spite of all of 
her expertise in enduring pain and degradation she felt uneasy 
now, having had little practice with kindness. She reached out 
and caught hold of his wrist with shaking fingers. "Th — thank 
you.” She stumbled over the words. "Thank you,” she repeated. 

Temokeuu touched the brand on her face. "Bonded?” 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


173 



"Yes.” She hesitated, stared in embarrassment at her scuffed 
and scarred feet in the old ragged sandals. "I was caught steal- 
ing.” 

"How long?” 

"Since I was bonded? Six standard years. Three summers ago. A 
quarter of my life.” 

"To go?” 

"Until whenever. The term was left open. It always is. Until I 
buy myself free, that’s the sentence.” 

"Ah.” There was heavy contempt in that soft breathed syllable. 
She looked up at him, startled. "How much is the bond?” he went 
on. 

"Fifty oboloi. But you’ve got to add on the bribes. At least as 
much more. Say a hundred, hundred twenty oboloi.” 

He looked disconcerted. "So much?” Then he stroked a finger 
beside his mouth. "Never mind. How does one buy a bond?” 

"Temokeuu, no. I can’t accept that. Besides, I’ve earned the 
money already. I found I had a talent and the stubbornness to 
make it good.” She caught his hand and held it against her cheek. 
"You’re very good, you and Tetaki.” She held out her other hand 
to the young merman. The she laughed, the sound surprising her 
with its joyousness. "I’ve got the money to buy the bond and pay 
the bribes.” She stood and shook her hair back over her shoulders. 
Then she stretched and sighed, laughing more when one hand 
swung against the roof beam. "You’re the only two people in the 
world I’d tell that to, my friends. It took the skin off my back to 
get that money but it was worth it. Tomorrow, Tetaki, Temokeuu. 
Tomorrow during my halfday I go to buy my bond.” 

He folded his arms across his wide chest. "I have some small 
influence.” 

She frowned. "I don’t understand.” 

"I will stand for you in the court.” He smiled suddenly, the 
shimmering tips of his opaline teeth barely visible behind his 
wide smooth lips, his dark green eyes glinting with a sardonic 
amusement. "It is surprising how much more alacritous justice 
becomes in the presence of influence.” 

She shifted uneasily, abruptly conscious of the smallness of the 
cabin, the closeness of the two seafolk males. "My debt becomes 
heavier by the minute. What can I say?” 

Temokeuu’s mouth twitched as he recognized her growing ner- 
vousness. He moved back and opened the door; as he stepped out 
he said, "When you are free, what will you do?” 


174 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



"I don't know. I thought about heading south.” 

"Come here.” He felt her hesitation. "Think about it. I’ll leave 
you to make your decision once we’re finished at court, but there 
is always a place for you in my house.” He went quickly up the 
steps of a ladder and swung out onto the deck. 

Gleia scrambled up beside him and stood quietly waiting for 
Tetaki, enjoying the feel of the breeze fingering through her hair. 
"Fm a thief Remember?” 

"I owe you my son’s life. Sin’ that day you are blood of my 
blood.” He chuckled, a warm affectionate sound. "A small dirty- 
face wild thing scolding me like my mother for letting my boy 
walk into danger.” He touched her face. "I liked your spirit. 
That’s why I let Tetaki spend so much time wit’ you. You were 
good for him. Gome wit’ us. Be a daughter of my house.” 

"I don’t want to be a ... to live off anyone. I want to work my 
own way. To owe nobody nothing.” 

"What make you think any of the People are allowed to drift at 
another’s expense?” He laughed. "Go back to your place, young 
Gleia. Rest. Here.” He handed her the jar of ointment. "Put this 
on what you can reach in morning. I will wait beside the Hall of 
Records.” 

On the wharf again, she found the fog had closed in thickly. 
She could barely see the lanterns hanging from the mast. A mus- 
cle twitched in her thigh, reminding her of the Ranga eye. She 
shuddered. No, she thought, no more chances. It’s too dangerous. I 
can damn well get along without it. She limped to the end of the 
wharf and pulled the crystal from her pocket. For a minute she 
hesitated as her fingers involuntarily caressed the smooth seduc- 
tive surface. Was it so bad after all? Beautiful. The crystal throb- 
bed and warmth began to climb up her hand. "No! Go charm a 
fish.” She flung the eye out into the water. 

The fog was bunchy and treacherous around the scavenger’s 
hovels. She walked with intense wariness, moving silently along 
the rutted path. The last few meters she ran full-out, forgetting 
the pain in her leg as shadows came at her out of the dirty 
yellow-white muck. She slammed the door on the reaching hands 
and scurried up the stairs, flitting past Miggela’s ambush before 
the ratty figure could come out and stop her. 

She stood in the doorway wrinkling her nose at the unlovely 
mess waiting for her. Cursing the crystal under her breath, she lit 
a candle at the guttering tallow dip smelling up the hall, then 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


175 



marched inside, slamming the door after her. After bringing a 
measure of order in the chaos, she got out the brazier and the cha 
fixings, using the candle to light shreds of paper beneath the last 
of her charcoal sticks. While the water was heating she yawned 
and stretched, feeling amazingly good in spite of the incredible 
day behind her; then she pulled the cafta’s ties loose and dragged 
it over her head. Once she had it off, she turned it over to look at 
the ruined back where the whip tails had sliced through the cloth. 
There was a weight sagging in the pocket. 

She thrust her hand in and her fingers closed on a smooth 
curved form. Warmth leaped up her arms. Her hand came out. 
Came up. She couldn’t open her fingers. The films of color danced 
around her, painted on the streamers of fog crawling through the 
open window. I threw it in the bay, she thought. I heard it splash. 
I felt it fly out of my fingers. I heard it splash. . . . 

come come come come sister lover sister no 
more trouble no more pain we love and laugh and live in 
butter-rich sunlight there is no anger, no hate, no oppres- 
sion here there is no anguish here there is no hurting we 
live in beauty no hunger no want no abandoned chil- 
dren we have as gift , everything everything we 

want don’t fight us come will it will it 

come you can come sunlight and beauty sunlight 
and joy come come sister lover 

They were all around her, glorious wraiths twittering allur- 
ingly, antennas flicking encouragement, affection, love. 

come sister come 

The water tin began whistling, the small shrill sound cutting 
through the haze. She swung around, deliberately bashing her fist 
into the wall, the sudden pain breaking the spell. Holding the 
crystal in her sore hand, she ripped a piece of the slashed cloth 
from the ruined cafta and tied the thing in it. She hooked the rag 
over the handle of the wardrobe, breathing a sigh of relief as she 
walked across to the whistling tin. 

At the House of Records, Gleia watched Temokecu walk 
through the main entrance. He looked over his shoulder at her, 
his narrow face with its sharp angles throwing off glints of red 


176 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



and blue from the two suns, then he vanished through the door 
she had no right to enter. She sighed and pushed through the 
bonder’s gate. 

In the salla, body disciplined to the proper stance of humble 
submission, she stopped in front of the clerk’s desk and waited for 
him to notice her. 

"What do you want, bonder? Some pointless complaint? Be sure 
you don’t waste my time.” His fat arrogant face was creased in a 
frown meant to underline his importance. He fiddled impatiently 
with some papers sitting in a folder. 

"By Thrim and Orik, the bonder’s law,” she said meekly. She 
fished in her pocket and pulled out a silver obol, laying it on the 
desk. "Thrim and Orik.” She placed two more oboloi on tip of the 
first. "I come to buy my bond.” 

He grunted as he swept the coins off the top of the desk. 
"Straighten up, bonder. Let me see your mark.” 

She lifted her head. 

"Closer. You think I can read the sign across the room?” 

She leaned across the desk. He touched the brand. "Thief. 
That’s fifty oboloi.” His hand slid down her neck and moved inside 
the cafta, stroking the soft skin as he moved his pale tongue over 
his thick lips. "And an investigation to see if you’ve reformed. 
There’s a lot of work in voiding a bond.” He took a fold of her 
flesh between his fingers and pinched. She closed her eyes against 
the sudden pain. "Unless you can convince me now how reformed 
you are.” 

Gleia went stiff. She hadn’t planned on paying that sort of 
bribe. If she refused him, he’d set a thousand niggling obstacles in 
her way until she exhausted her money and her strength and 
sank beaten back into the slow death of her bondage. She closed 
her eyes on her anger. If that was the cost, it was no big thing. 
Not when set against the thing she wmnted. She thought of Ab- 
brah. No big deal. She leaned into the fat clerk’s hand, smiling 
at him. 

He wobbled his pudgy body around to the gate and swung it 
open. "Interrogation room this way.” As she moved through the 
gate, he shoved her along the hall and pushed her into a small 
bare room with a lumpy couch, a soiled chair, and a washstand. 

Gleia pulled off her cafta and lay on the couch, waiting for him. 

The Kadiff was sitting behind his high bench looking bored. He 
tapped long slim fingers on the desk top as the clerk led Gleia in. 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 


177 



"What’s this?” 

"Bond buyer, noble Kadiff.” 

"Umph. Bring her here.” 

Gleia came to the desk, suppressing her annoyance at the ser- 
vile behavior expected of her. She glanced quickly and secretly 
around as she bent her body into a low bow. Temokeuu came 
quietly from the shadows and stood beside her. The Kadiff raised 
his eyebrows and looked a trifle more interested. 

"Noble and honored Kadiff, may I offer a small evidence of my 
appreciation for your Honor’s condescending to disturb your magni- 
ficent thoughts to hear my small and unimportant petition?” She 
reached back and touched Temokeuu’s arm, inviting him to share 
her game. His fingers touched hers, nipped one slightly, letting 
her know he was appreciating her performance. 

The Kadiff inclined his head and she came closer, feigning a 
shy timidity, inwardly contemptuous of the man for swallowing 
her speech, sitting there, preening himself on his importance. She 
placed five gold pentoboloi on the table in front of him and backed 
away. 

He grunted and tucked the coins into one of his sleeves. "You 
have investigated her reform?” he asked the clerk. 

"Yes, Noble Kadiff.” 

The Kadiff sniffed. "No doubt. Have you sent for the bond hol- 
der?” 

"Yes, Noble Kadiff. The caftamaker Habbibah. The wardman 
was sent and should be here momentarily.” 

"While we’re waiting you’d better send for the brander. If we 
have to cancel the bond, he should be here.” 

"It will be done. Noble Kadiff.” The clerk scurried out, looking 
pale at having forgotten this. 

The Kadiff tapped the end of his long nose with a neatly 
polished nail. "It’s unusual to see one of the seafolk in this place.” 
He looked around disdainfully. "Let alone one of your status, am- 
bassador.” 

Gleia’s eyebrows rose involuntarily. A little influence he said? 

Temokeuu bowed his head with a delicately exaggerated 
solemnity that delighted Gleia. "I owe blood debt to this person, 
noble sir, and stand surety for her. She is sister and daughter, 
blood of my blood.” 

The Kadiff appeared suitably impressed. His attitude altered 
subtly. He sat straighter, looked more interested, and considera- 
bly more respectful. "Fifty oboloi for the bond. You need ten more 


178 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



for the brander.” 

"I have it, Noble Kadiff.” She kept her eyes on her feet. 

"A lot of money. You’re fortunate to have a sponsor, young 
woman.” 

Temokeuu bowed slightly. "The honor would have been mine, 
save that my daughter has earned the money to redeem herself.” 

"I didn’t know sewing girls made such pay.” 

"If you please. Illustrious Kadiff, my designs have received 
some praise and brought much money into the pockets of Hab- 
bibah my bond mistress. And she has seen fit to share some of the 
bounty with me,” Gleia murmured. 

"Share!” Habbibah came storming into the room, the hapless 
wardman trailing behind. "The creature wouldn’t work without 
extra pay. Why am I dragged out of my home? For this?” She jab- 
bed a shaking finger at Gleia, then her hands went flying, touch- 
ing her earrings, dabbing at her lips, brushing down over her 
chest. That and her angry lack of respect congealed the Kadiff s 
horseface into a scowl of petulant displeasure. 

"Be quiet, woman.” He glared at the wardman who hastily 
came up behind the angry Habbibah. "You are here,” he went on, 
"as required by law to witness the cancelling of your bond.” 

"What!” Forgetting where she was, Habbibah shrieked and 
lunged at Gleia, small hands curved into claws. The wardman 
caught her and got a scratched face for his pains. He wrestled her 
back, holding her until the Kadiff s astonished roar broke through 
her rage, putting her on notice that she was in danger of a mas- 
sive fine. The thought of losing money quieted her immediately. 
"I most humbly beg your pardon. Noble Kadiff,” she shrilled, fall- 
ing onto her knees in a position of submission. "It was only my 
anger at the ingratitude of this girl that made me forget myself. I 
gave her a home and trade and paid her well, better than she de- 
served, and now she wishes to leave me when the Maleeka herself 
has asked for her to work the cafta her daughter will wear on her 
nameday.” 

Gleia saw the Kadiff lean back, his eyes shifting uneasily be- 
tween them. "May a lowly one have permission to speak. Magnifi- 
cent Kadiff?” 

"Granted.” His eyes moved from the fuming Habbibah to the 
stern face of the merman. Like black bugs they oscillated back 
and forth as he tried to decide where his interest lay. 

"The design is completed,” Gleia said. She spoke slowly, clearly. 
"The design is the important thing. There are sewing girls with 

A BAIT OF DREAMS 179 



skills greater than mine to execute the work.” 

The Kadiff scowled at Habbibah. "Is that true?” 

Hahbibah glared furiously at Gleia but didn’t quite dare lie. 
"It’s true,” she muttered. 

"What?” 

"It’s true.” 

The Kadiff sighed with relief. "That, I believe, answers your ob- 
jection, woman. And you, bonder, I hereby cancel your bond. The 
fifty oboloi, if you please.” 

Gleia stood in front of the wardrobe. Deliberately she unhooked 
the rag bundle and took it to the bed. She sat holding the bundle 
in her lap. "Well.” 

The crystal moved inside the cloth like something alive. 

Rubbing the skin beside her new brand, Gleia contemplated the 
bundle. "Looks like I’ve got several ways I can go from here.” She 
poked at the cloth, rolling the hidden eye about. "I can stay here 
and work for Habbibah. She knows I can quit any time and go 
with a competitor. I’ve got a lever now. Maybe could work out a 
good arrangement. At least I’d know what I was facing. I would, 
wouldn’t I. I’d know what every day would be like. Every day.” 
She shivered. "Or I could head south.” She touched the stone and 
laughed. "And probably end up in a worse mess.” 

She rubbed the end of her nose, feeling warmth stroking down 
into her thighs from the stone. "I know what you want. Mm. I 
could go with Temokeuu and Tetaki. That’s a leap in the dark too, 
but at least I’d have friends.” She shook her head. "Some influ- 
ence. Ambassador. Temokeuu, ah my friend.” 

Carefully, moving with slow deliberation, she untied the knots 
in the rag and touched the Ranga eye. The warmth spread up 
through her body and once again she saw the butterfly people. 
The male spun in ecstatic spirals and the others danced their jubi- 
lation. She could feel them drawing her out of her body. She 
wanted to let go, she wanted desperately to let go, to fly on glori- 
ous wings, free and joyous. So easy, it would be so easy just to go 
sailing away from all the pain and misery of her life here. Why 
not? Why not just go, let them take her to fly in joy under a 
butter-yellow sun. . . . 

"No.” She jabbed her free thumb into the new burn on her face, 
using the pain to wrench herself from the eye’s influence. "No.” 
She folded the rag about the stone, knotting the ends once again. 
Levering herself back on her feet, she took the bundle to the 


180 


A BAIT OF DREAMS 



wardrobe, opened the door, and tossed the rag with the Ranga eye 
into the back corner. "No. You’re too much like a trap. How could 
I trust you?" She shook her head. "I’m free now. I don’t want you. 
I don’t need you. What you offer is too easy. Makes me wonder 
where the thorns are.” 

Patting her pocket to make sure her money was safe, she went 
down the stairs for the last time, nodded pleasantly to Miggela as 
the squat figure came out of her nest. No reason to bother about 
the old rat any more. Gleia laughed to herself as she remembered 
dreams of telling her landlady just what she thought of her. But 
it wasn’t worth the wasted energy. 

She stepped into the cruelly bright afternoon, pulling the cafta’s 
hood up over her head. Without hesitation she turned into the al- 
ley, leaving behind with few regrets the drab reality of her past 
and the dream possibilities of the crystal. Temokeuu was waiting, 
would wait until sundown for her answer. She smiled and began 
to run past the stinking hovels. 



A BAIT OF DREAMS 


181 



LETTERS 


Sirs: 

Might I prevail upon you again to kindly send me directions for 
submitting stories to your magazine? 

My baby chewed up the first set you sent. 

Thanks. 

Karen Adler 
Brick Town NJ 


Your baby has good taste. But fear not, there are plenty more of 
the directions. 

—Isaac Asimov 

These directions — a sheet on our story needs, and another sheet 
on manuscript format — are proving very useful not only to writers, 
who can thus find out what we want and how we want it prepared, 
but also to your editor, who is finding a greater number of stories 
he can use as a result. 

— George H. Scithers 


Dear Sirs: 

Congratulations on a great magazine. Each issue seems to get 
better, and I have enjoyed them all. Your letter section especially 
pleases me, because it is not constantly filled with scientific 
theories, ideas, arguments, etc. Instead, you have chosen to print 
letters about your magazine, and what people think of it. To me, 
that is a sign of a magazine that cares about its readers, and 
what they want. 

My main reason for writing this letter is to thank you for print- 
ing the memorial to Leigh Brackett Hamilton. 

After the death of Edmund Hamilton I wrote Mrs. Hamilton my 
condolences. I was surprised — and much honored — to receive a 
letter from her, something that she didn’t have to do. Her consid- 
eration of a fan who would miss her husband and his writing 
shows what a fine lady she was. Not only will she be badly missed, 
she will be remembered for a long, long time. 

As I told her in my letter, her books and Edmund’s will always 


182 



Gus Gauba 
Bisbee AZ 


be placed side-by-side on my bookshelf. 
With much sadness, 


Well, if I may be serious for a moment, I have found science fic- 
tion writers to be warm and kindly people almost without excep- 
tion. Perhaps it ’s because of the family feeling I mentioned in my 
editorial in the January-February, 1978, issue. 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Mr. Scithers: 

To me, the single most impressive feature of your magazine is 
its encouragement of new writers. Since you already have a 
superstar in your title, you can avoid the "star system” in your 
choice of authors. Indeed, many of your outstanding stories have 
been first sales. It is good to know that the woods are full of 
talented young writers of all ages, for after all, who could be more 
youthful than The Good Graying Doctor? 

I also enjoy Mr. Brown’s book reviews, although I do wish he 
would include more reviews of a cautionary nature, such as he did 
with Lucifer’s Hammer. Although I also enjoy the essay-reviews 
that appear in F&SF, I don’t think such a style would fit your 
magazine. In fact, I would be twice as happy with Mr. Brown’s re- 
views if he could find the time to review twice as many books. 

Finally, many thanks for the Letters column. If these letters 
are representative of your readers, the column shows that they 
are bright, observant, and naturally optimistic — like the editors 
themselves. 

Sincerely, 


Richard D. Wright 
Derby Line VT 


The Good Graying Doctor? Hmm, that’s nice. It will put the 
young ladies off their guard (I hope). 


— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Editorial Director; 

Capital magazine! Why not a capital abbreviation — especially 
when it would make the grammar less grimmer? While "lA” 
appropriately denotes a capital person, "lA’sfm” suggests that 

183 


LETTERS 



person has a swelled head, and that’s obviously not true. Anyone 
who has written over 200 books must have most of his neurons in 
his typing fingers. 

See, for example, Andrew J. Offutt’s (now, also a capital person) 
output in the July Writer’s Digest. Your abbr. simply can’t be — 
unless it’s Isaac Asimov’s Fiction Magazine. And please, please, 
not "lA’ssfm”! Plenty of precedents. . . before it went non-digital, 
"the one with rivets” was "ASF,” and "F&SF” is still upppercase 
in our minds. Surely you don’t want to appear as silly as those 
who advocate "stf’ rather than steadfast "SF”. . . spare us pinkie- 
strain on the shift key. . . "lASFM”! 

Sincerely, 

Dean R. Lambe 
Vincent OH 

How would you like to be me'? I have to call it "the magazine” 
since I can’t use my own name as if I am a stranger to myself. 

— Isaac Asimov 


DEAR MR. SCITHERS: 

TYPING SURE IS EASIER AFTER ONE FINDS THAT 
THERE IS AVAILABLE A BALL FOR THE SELECTRIC THAT 
HAS NO LOWER CASE LETTERS, THEREBY ELIMINATING 
MY MAJOR SOURCE OF TYPING ERRORS! JUST FOR THE 
RECORD (DID I REALLY TYPE THAT?), THE THING IS 
CALLED "MANIFOLD”. SURE DO LIKE IT. 

I HAVE BEEN DELIGHTED WITH lA’SFM AND AM CUR- 
RENTLY ENJOYING THE NEW ADVENTURE ONE. SINCE I 
HATE LE'TTERS THAT PAINFULLY DISSECT THE ENTIRE 
ISSUE, I WILL ONLY SAY THAT I HAVEN’T ENJOYED AN 
SF MAGAZINE AS MUCH AS THESE SINCE I WAS ABOUT 
SIX, STEALING MY DAD’S COPIES, AND THEN HIDING TO 
READ THEM. (MY MOTHER WAS SURE THAT THEY WERE 
NOT SUITABLE FOR A YOUNG LADY!) IT IS SLIGHTLY DIS- 
TURBING TO REALIZE THAT I NOW HAVE A KID THAT 
STEALS AND READS MY COPIES! I REALLY WOULDN'T 
MIND, IF SHE'D JUST LET ME READ THEM FIRST, OR EVEN 
RETURN THEM. . . 

BLESSINGS, 

KATHIRENE N. PETERSON 
HOUSTON TX 

184 LETTERS 



My invariable suggestion under these conditions is that you buy 
two copies, one for yourself and one for that very intelligent kid of 
yours. 

— Isaac Asimov 

Our Associate Editor, Shawna McCarthy, suggests that I remind 
all of you would-be writers that we cannot accept manuscripts 
typed in all capital letters. The writer, not the typesetter, must de- 
cide which letters are to appear in the final, typeset copy in caps 
and which in lower case. 

— George H. Scithers 


Dear Dr. Asimov, 

I have been subscribing to lA’sfm since about the third issue 
and enjoy it immensely. Since you do actively invite letters, (one of 
the features I appreciate), I do have a request: I’d like to see a 
monthly science fact article. I subscribe to three other SF mags, 
and in F&SF the first thing I inevitably turn to is your own good 
science fact article. In other magazines. Dr. Pournelle’s column 
comes in a distant second to yours, and in the third I often find 
the science column much too technical or mathematical and I 
often can’t wade through it. 

Appreciatively, 

Maria de Carlo 
Paris, France 

With all due respect to myself I honestly think it is better to wait 
for a good article than to lower standards by insisting on one 
monthly. Of course, if we happen to get twelve good ones a year — 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Mr. Asimov, 

Having subscribed to your magazine, I began reading them 
(relatively) slowly. The first story I read was "A Delicate Shade of 
Kipney,” and it got me permanently hooked. "Heretic in a Bal- 
loon” was the last straw — I am now an avid /A ’s/m reader. 

The following are my Top Ten stories for the first three issues I 
have received: 1) "Singularity” (Incidentally, this story was the 
second one ever to make me pull out the Kleenex — the first was 
"Flowers for Algernon”) 2) "Heretic in a Balloon” 3) "A Delicate 


LETTERS 


185 



Shade of Kipney” 4) "The Far King” 5) "The Case of the Defective 
Doyles” 6) "The Third Dr. Moreau” 7) "Born Again” 8) "Panic” 9) 
"Darkside” 10) "The Voyage of the Bagel” (Come on, Dr. Gardner! 
That is the worst title I’ve ever heard!!!!!!!!!!!!!). 

Keep up the good work, 

Jon Zeigler 
Salem OH 


Imagine! Not one of my stories made the top ten. Talk about pull- 
ing out the Kleenex. 


— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Gentle Sirs; 

I am writing this to tell you how wonderful your science fiction 
magazine is. I have every copy so far, but it is very hard to find 
here in Meridian MS. The only bookstore I have found it in 
doesn’t always have it. But, I have managed so far to find each 
copy of your magazine. 

I wish you both would put more puns into your magazine. I be- 
came acquainted with Dr. Asimov through his book, I, Robot, and 
since then have read most of his books and always delighted in 
the puns and humour of his stories. 

Your latest issue (July- August) was by far the best one I have 
read. I especially liked Larry Niven’s "Cautionary Tales”, Michael 
Banks’s "Horseless Carriage”, Ginger Kaderabek’s "Public Rela- 
tions”, and Diana Paxson’s "Message to Myself.” 

Please — keep up the fantastic work! I hope you both will always 
be around! 

Mr. Scithers, do you write, also? 

Respectfully, 


Anna Marie Robinson (Miss) 


Now don’t encourage George to write. I want his nose at the 
editorial grindstone. 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Dr. Asimov and Mr. Scithers: 

Thank you for "Scrap from the Notebooks of Johann Wolfgang 
von Goethe”. While it wasn’t exactly a pun, it was close enough 
for me. 


186 


LETTERS 



Although I love your magazine, I have one complaint to make. 
The "letters” section runs about four issues behind. This 
(September-October, 1978) is the first time I’ve xmderstood what 
the letters were talking about. (One wonders — what did you do 
for the first four issues . . . ?) 

Sincerely, 

Judy Anderson 
Novato CA 

We started letters with the second issue actually, but remember 
some letters are written late and if they’re interesting, we publish 
them anyway. 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Mr. Scithers: 

What, I ask you, is a near-penniless college student to do? 
When lA’sfm burst upon the SF scene a few years ago, I found 
that the contents greatly suited my tastes. So I bought it, and I 
have continued to buy it. Unfortunately, I also enjoy all of the 
other SF magazines, as well as an occasional novel. The reason 
that this is unfortunate is because, what with perpetually rising 
cover prices on both books and magazines, I simply cannot afford 
to buy all of the SF that I want to buy. And now you’ve compli- 
cated my life to a further degree by introducing Asimov’s SF Ad- 
venture Magazine. You people are a threat to higher education. 
(Meaning that if much more good SF comes on the market, I 
won’t be able to afford to go back to school this fall!) 

On the other hand, the more magazines there are, the better 
the chances an unpublished writer such as myself has for making 
a sale. So I am enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope 
which I trust you will use to send me information concerning your 
story needs and preferences as to manuscript format. (Perhaps if 
I sold a few stories, I could afford to buy both lA’sfm and 
AsfAm . . .) 

Sincerely yours, 

Bradley Denton 
Towanda KS 

Comfort yourself with the thought that man does not live by 
bread alone — and maybe you can skip a few meals. 

— Isaac Asimov 
LETTERS 187 



Dear Mr. Scithers: 

I have just finished the July-August issue of lA’sfm and I feel 
an urge to write a letter, something I don’t usually do. I don’t 
want to write a "Gee, wow, neato, that was a real keen issue . . .’’ 
But, God help me, that’s what I feel like writing. 

Why don’t you print the addresses of the people who write the 
letters? Most SF magazines do this, and it makes it easy to con- 
tact people you agree or disagree with. Well, thanks for read- 
ing .. . 

Jerry Witt 
Sterling Heights MI 

PS: Disregard the above idea if you have a member of your staff 
make those letters up and use fictional names. [Does not apply; 
all the letters are real. — GHS] 

PPS: Hasn’t anyone besides me noticed George Lucas’s ana- 
chronisms in his first three movies? The first was THX1138. In 
American Graffiti the hot-rodder’s license plate number was 
THX138. In Star Wars (at least the book), there was a 
Stormtrooper. Guess what his number was. 

PPPS: Sorry about the PS; I get carried away. 

The trouble is that some people may not want to be contacted. We 
would appreciate it if letter writers would indicate whether they are 
willing to have their addresses included. If you ARE willing, type 
your address under your name at the END of your letter. If you 
don’t put your address at the end of the letter, we’ll leave it out 
when we print your letter. 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Sirs: 

By the way, my compliments on your last issue. As I expected, 
the editorial was good. I have just one minor complaint; why does 
the Good Doctor throw us words like "eupepsia”? Looking it up 
may well "develop my vocabulary,” but it certainly wasn’t in 
either of the two dictionaries I own! (Doesn’t it just figure? They 
both included jawbreakers like "individualization” and "dehyd- 
rogenation.”) In the end, I had to go down to the library to find 
out what it meant. 

188 


LETTERS 



The stories were up to their usual high standards, which cauf .d 
me to hesitate. How could I possibly write anything comparable to 
Larry Niven’s "Cautionary Tales”? Still, I suppose it can’t hurt to 
try . . . can it? 

I also enjoyed "Public Relations,” by Ginger Kaderabek, and 
"One Rejection Too Many,” Patricia Nurse’s entry. I hope to see 
more of the stories of these writers in future issues. 

I was fascinated by the article on your illustrator, Frank Kelly 
Freas. However, there are many other workers at your magazine, 
including presidents and managers; I hope you won’t overlook 
them. How about doing their biographies in future issues? 

I read Charles N. Brown’s book reviews with interest. The only 
problem here is that I can never find the books he describes. I am, 
for instance, still looking for some of the novels he reviewed six 
months ago. It seems to take a long time for American books to 
work their way up here. 

No such problem is evident in the distribution of your 
magazine, though. lA’sfm is always here, on or before the date it 
should be. Your sister publication, AsfAm, also has no difficulties 
in getting to Swift Current. My compliments to your circulation 
department. 

Yours sincerely. 


Julian A. Smith 
Swift Current, Saskatchewan 


If anyone else is puzzled, "eupepsia” means "good digestion.” Its 
the opposite of dyspepsia. Your suggestion that we introduce the 
behind-the-scenes people is a terrific one. George, let’s start by 
doing one on Joel. He’ll blush, but who cares? 

— Isaac Asimov 


Dear Dr. Asimov: 

I received my September-October issue a few days ago, and 
have a few comments to make about it. The lead story, "Softly 
Touch the Stranger’s Mind,” strikes me as an example of the kind 
of story that has been done to death over the years. No matter 
how well written, I think that there have been enough stories 
about aliens being forced to land on Earth and their first contact 
with humans. While the story was not particulary objectionable, I 
hardly think that it deserved the cover. 

"The Bitter End” is one of the stories that I don’t mind your 

LETTERS 189 



breaking the rules over. While it is not science fiction, it is defi- 
nitely good, and I think that you were justified in printing it. 

"An Eye for Detail” is similar to many other stories on the 
quest for immortality, but the twist of ultimate loneliness is new; 
the only other mention of this that comes to mind is in Heinlein’s 
Time Enough for Love. I think that the story was handled very 
well. 

"Thirty Love,” about a wonderful gift and the problems that it 
causes its owner, was excellent. Unlike Haldeman’s earlier 
sports-SF stories, it emphasizes characterization instead of 
heavy-handed humor. His series is definitely improving with ex- 
perience. 

"The Victor Hours” seemed unoriginal and pointless. Reynold’s 
first story, "Boarder Incident,” was good since he retained a light 
touch. His second tried for a deep philosophical meaning and fell 
on its face. 

"Inevitability Sphere” and its age-old conflict between the city 
slicker and outback roughneck was very good. Duntemann’s first 
story takes an old theme and upgrades it into the future, but re- 
frains from stereotyping the characters — a rare achievement. 

I loved "The Adventure of the Global Traveler”! Any story that 
mixes science fiction, Shakespeare, and Sherlock Holmes (three of 
my favorite literary areas) and still retains some — dare I call it 
plausibility? — deserves whatever accolades available. Again, 
another excellent first sale. 

I was disappointed in "Seasoning.” Of course, I am unfamiliar 
with the rest of the series, but I expected a better story from Hal 
Clement. 

Saving the best for last, I loudly applaud your editorial. Few 
things irritate me as much as a science fiction story with weak 
or outright wrong scientific backing. Not only does this ruin the 
story, but it puts faulty ideas about science into people’s heads — 
such as the scare stories about nuclear power plants exploding 
that were popular in the 40’s and 50’s. Every aspiring science fic- 
tion author should be given a copy of this editorial. 

Sincerely, 


Stephen Fleming 
Atlanta GA 


It is very useful to have thoughtful comments on the stories, 
pointing up good and bad aspects. But remember that Heinlein’s 
"Blowups Happen,” the great exploding-nuclear-power-plant story, 

190 


LETTERS 



was written in 1940, before the fact. 

— Isaac Asimov 

We are always anxious to find out how well the magazine is 
being distributed to the newsstands in your neighborhood. The in- 
formation in letters we’ve received already has been a great help to 
Mr. Gabree, our Newsstand Circulation Director, in trying to fix 
problems in this area. Some other things we’re especially interested 
in: 

If this is the first issue of the magazine you’ve read, what about 
the magazine got you to pick it upl 

What is the lowest age at which people — in reasonable 
numbers — enjoy reading the magazine? 

What do you think we can do to get more people to read the 
magazine regularly? 

As always, letters are read by the editor, the publisher, the edito- 
rial director, and other people in Davis Publications, Inc., who 
have an interest in what a particular letter is about. Letters should 
be addressed to the editor at Box 13116, Philadelphia PA 19101. 
(This is also the address for sending in manuscripts, but before 
you do that, please send for our folders on our needs and on manu- 
script preparation. The address for new subscriptions, changes of 
address for established subscriptions, and problems with subscrip- 
tions is entirely different: lA’sfm, Box 1855 GPO, New York NY 
10001.) While we always enjoy letters that say nice things about 
the magazine, sometimes letters that tell us what we’re doing 
wrong and what we should do about it are more helpful. Either 
way, do write! 

— George H. Scithers 


NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER 

Due to mechanical difficulties with our printer, it has become 
impossible for us to continue to mail subscription copies of lASFM 
in wrappers. We are attempting to come up with a viable alternative. 

—The Publisher 


LETTERS 


191 



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